Camille Talks Progression to Pushups

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1. Learn how to activate your core under length.

Start with the plank and think of lengthening from your heels all the way to the crown of your head. Imagine someone is pulling on your feet one direction and your head going the opposite direction. We get most of our length in this position by allowing space between the vertebrae (bones in the spine). Keep this length and draw in your belly button, squeeze your legs, and draw your shoulders into their sockets. You are now activating your entire core. Stay here for 5 breaths and take a break. Once you can maintain this plank for a minute, you are safe to progress to pushup.

2. Keep your neck long!

Don’t let your chin tip up or hang down. Your gaze should be on the floor ahead of you, fixated on a point where your neck is neutral. The vertebrae in the neck are a part of a healthy spinal alignment. It takes effort to maintain neutral neck alignment as you lower your body towards the floor and push back up. A common compensation we see is cramming shoulders up into the ears, which makes it easier because the length of your body shrinks. But taking this easy route can also lead to injury in the neck and shoulders. So it’s a good test to see if you are able to maintain the space around the neck throughout the entire movement and if you can’t, make the move easier, it’s not worth the neck injury.

3. Make the “Push” easier by starting on your knees or on the counter.

Keep the length of the plank as you bend and straighten your arms.To make it easier, start on bent knees or put your hands on a counter or table to remove some of the weight until you can maintain the neck/shoulder space before going into a full push-up on the ground. By allowing yourself to start at an easier position, you can build strength in the muscles that power your pushup without falling into bad movement habits.

Now, figure out a good starting point for you, whether plank, knees, counter, or floor! Now drop and give me “healthy neck and spinal alignment” for as many as you can do.

Thea Kennedy