June exercise of the month: the bridge
Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP
Break out the flipflops and sunscreen people! June days are here to stay. Sunshine and good times are rolling out, but that doesn’t mean wellness and activity should stop. This month I want us to dive deep into a hidden gem: the bridge.
The bridge is a fantastic movement to help strengthen the glutes – three muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, that make up the buttocks. Extended periods of sitting can cause significant glute weakness. Why should you worry about your glutes? Strong glutes can help protect the back and knees. Also, having a nice, toned butt is never a bad thing!
To perform the bridge, you start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Sidenote – choose a firm surface. A yoga mat or towel on the floor are good options. A bed or couch are not good options as they are too cushioned.
How to complete a bridge:
· While lying down, tighten your abdomen and glutes. Maintain the abdomen and glute tightness throughout the movement.
· Raise your hips toward the ceiling until they are fully extended. Don’t overextend here! You don’t want to overarch your back. Keeping your abdomin tight will help protect you from this.
· After reaching full hip extension, slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Don’t just drop back to the floor, keep control going up and control going down. This will target those muscles well and you will get more out of the movement.
· If you are like me, you may be wondering what you do with your hands. Leave them down at your side on the floor.
· Last crucial thing, remember to breath!
Breathing is important during any exercise. Before diving into the bridge, try practicing breathing while your muscles are tightened. Get into the bridge position on the floor, tighten your abdomen and glutes, and breathe while keeping those muscles tight. If you need to, practice this several times before attempting the bridge. Be patient and move slowly. Learning to breath while maintaining muscle tightness is an important concept to master. After you feel confident in breathing and maintaining muscle tightness, move on to performing bridges.
There are many variations to the bridge. It is a great exercise to use and research. Try checking it out online! Don’t forget to log that activity so you can look back on your progress. For those of you wanting to incorporate it into a workout, keep reading.
· Start with a 10-minute walk or jog
· 2 to 3 sets of:
o 10-15 squats
o 10 bridges
o 2-3 planks (10-30 second holds)
· Finish with another 10-minute walk or jog
Good luck bridging!
Kayla Thompson is a patient support representative at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence and is a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. She has a Master of Science in clinical exercise science