How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Inline Lunge

How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Inline Lunge

Welcome back!

 Last week we discussed the first of our functional-based screens, the Hurdle Step. Our functional screens will all be completed from the standing posture involving many of the underlying mobility and stability requirements that we have already screened in our mobility and stability screens from different foot positions. These screens provide insight into how well we can currently perform proper mobility and stability of our upper and lower body to properly perform tasks required throughout our typical day. Today we are going to be discussing the second of our functional-based screens, the Inline Lunge.

Today We Will Discuss:

  • The Importance of the Inline Lunge
  • How Stability Effects Planes of Motion
  • Why We Train Mobility before Stability 

How we Screen the Inline Lunge

The setup requirements for the Hurdle Step and Inline Lunge screens are very similar with a couple differences, the stance position, and the arm position. The stance of the Hurdle Step as you recall, was mainly from a single leg as we had to step up and over during the screen. The stance on the Inline Lunge is a split stance (one foot inline and in front of the other). The hand position also changes to a reciprocal pattern with the arms (one above the other). The test itself differs from a step over with the Hurdle Step to a descent with the Inline Lunge. Let’s look at the screen:

The Inline Lunge as shown above is testing the client’s ability to demonstrate appropriate mobility, stability, and balance to descend to the ground from a split stance position. In looking at the test being performed we would simply think this is a test to see if someone could perform a lunge or split squat and though that would be partially correct, there significantly more to the test than just qualifying someone as to whether they can perform these exercises safely.

For many, the most difficult part of this test can be the setup position. As you can see by the pictures above, the test requires a very narrow stance position. This position places a good challenge on spine and pelvic stability and control which is necessary to balance ourselves in a narrow stance, without proper spine and pelvic stability clients are unable to get into the setup position because of poor balance. Proper mid back (thoracic spine) and shoulder mobility along with shoulder blade (scapular) stability is required to achieve proper hand position on the dowel, which can also limit one’s ability to get into the setup position. The feet must be inline with the board on setup which requires good hip mobility. Without good hip mobility and the ability to maintain foot position, setup position is not able to be accomplished. We can start to see just how challenging of a task positioning can be on our body if we do not have functional levels of mobility and/or stability. This again forces us to compensate and overload areas of our body, which can be the cause of excess wear and tear and potential injury.

How Stability Effects Planes of Motion

Once in the proper setup position, we then must demonstrate functional levels of hip, knee, and ankle mobility along with maintaining good stabilization and control of our spine and pelvis to lower ourselves into the lunge and return ourselves to the standing or starting position. This is a great evaluator of how well we can stabilize ourselves from side-to-side (laterally) in what we would refer to as our frontal plane. We have 3 planes of motion in our body, sagittal, frontal, and transverse. The sagittal plane refers to forward and back movement, while the frontal plane refers to side to side or lateral movement, and the transverse plane refers to rotational movement. To move ourselves in one plane of motion we typically have to stabilize ourselves in the other planes, so that we don’t fall over. The level of required lateral stabilization in the Inline Lunge is increased by the narrow stance.

Again, the Inline Lunge screen challenges the necessary functional competency shown in the joint-by-joint approach. We must be competent in our shoulder, mid back (thoracic spine), hip and ankle mobility while simultaneously stabilizing our trunk and pelvis. This test also shows that even though areas of our body favor either mobility or stability as shown in the joint-by-joint approach that we still require mobility in stable regions and stability in mobile regions. This is the case with the knee joint in the Inline Lunge. The knee is primarily a stable joint in the body as it predominantly moves in one plane, the sagittal plane, with bending (flexion) and straightening (extension). In the inline lunge the mobility of the knee in flexion and extension is required during the lowering and raising of the lunge pattern.

Why we Need Mobility before Stability in Dynamic Movement

The lunge pattern was first introduced to us developmentally when we learn to go from a half-kneeling (one knee on ground other foot in front) to standing as a toddler when we are getting ourselves from the ground to a standing position. As adults, we may lose the ability to perform this movement as we tend to have habitual and favored movements and neglected or avoided movements, which can be due to unresolved injuries or chronic limitations resulting in compensations. This can be problematic as the ability to get ourselves up from the ground can be vital to life. It would commonly be thought that the inability to get ourselves up from the ground would be a strength issue, though this can sometimes be the case it is more often the inability to properly use our stabilizing muscles through these movements. When we do not have the ability to properly use our stabilizing muscles, we will alter the function of our muscles that should be providing strength to assist our stabilizing system. In other words, our prime movers come to the rescue of our stabilizers and therefore we do not have the strength to get ourselves up from the floor.

In addition, lack of stability does not allow us to properly use the strength that we have available, which creates relative versus true weakness. We have the strength our body just cannot use it effectively. Our lack of stability is what causes us to not have the appropriate strength to complete the task. Therefore, we often need to correct this inability with a training program that emphasizes stabilization before strengthening. If emphasizing strength before stability, which is often the case, we could actually be enhancing or increasing this dysfunction! Remember mobility before stability, stability before movement, movement before strength!

In addition to being a life skill requirement the lunge is also seen in multiple other activities. In everyday life, we can choose the lunge or half kneeling pattern to lower ourselves to pull weeds from our garden or pick up a ball on the golf course. We use the long base of the lunge to brace ourselves to push a heavy sofa across the floor or to push a broken-down car off the road.

Again, it is vital to have an understanding of how well we are able to perform the Inline Lunge pattern prior to designing an exercise program. Activities such as running and jumping should be limited, prior to correcting this pattern. This pattern should be corrected and reach a satisfactory level prior to adding repetition or load to lunges, split squats, sled pushes, and full get-ups. Activities that we need to be cautious with include deadlifts and squats, kettlebell swings and single leg deadlifts.

What Is Next…

We hope that our continued discussion of the FMS and the Inline Lunge screen has demonstrated the continued strong need for a proper fitness screen prior to initiating a training program. For more information on corrective strategies that we utilize in our training programs to help improve the Inline Lunge and split stance, continue to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook) where we will be posting videos of how to improve this pattern.

We will be back next week to discuss our last functional screen and final screen of the FMS, Deep Squat. Until then, we hope you all have a great and active week!

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