Dryland Tip: Side Plank Progressions

By G. John Mullen of SwimmingScience.net and CenterofOptimalRestoration.com, Swimming World correspondent

SANTA CLARA, California, December 22. THIS week's Dryland Tip from Dr. G. John Mullen is the Side Plank Progression. This exercise focused on core stability of the abdominals.

Purpose: Long axis strokes require core stability and axial rotation. The side plank progression begins with core stability of the abdominals progressing to contralateral (opposite arm and leg) stability with axial rotation. Contralateral stabilization is essential in all long axis swimmers, being able to coordinate opposite limbs to maximize rotational potential.

Directions: All side plank require proper set-up: chin tucked, shoulders, hips and feet on top of one another and glutes/core contracted. This position maximizes core recruitment with optimal biomechanics.

Stage 1: Lie on your side with your knees bent. With your knees on the ground, lift your hips as high as possible towards the ceiling, then hold statically.

Stage 2: Straighten your legs while maintaining the same hip height. Extending the legs will increase the lever arm of the legs making the exercise more challenging

Stage 3: In the stage 2 position, rotate your shoulder forward similar to a freestyle movement and tap the floor, then return to the stage 2 position.

Stage 4: In the stage 3 position, rotate your shoulders and hips forward from a perpendicular to parallel position. Tap the floor and return to the stage 2 position.

Stage 5: Place your top leg on a bench or chair, then rotate your body forward from a perpendicular to parallel position. Tap the floor and return to the start position. Keep your hips high!

All these stages are beneficial for swimmers. Pick the exercise stage appropriate for your level and perform for 30-90 seconds.

Dr. G. John Mullen is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. At USC, he was a clinical research assistant at USC performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the strength and conditioning coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, owner of the Center of Optimal Restoration and creator of Swimming Science.

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