Is this a good exercise?

I posted this exercise in 2015 and it received the most views that I’ve ever had on a social media post (40k!) However with the lens of a further seven years of experience I look at it again and wonder whether it is actually a very good exercise or is it purely a gimmick?

The answer is … it depends

Breaking it down we see the swing leg is providing a lateral stabilization force however in reality it is normally the stance (top) leg that does this, but in this case it is providing a medial stabilization force. Therefore is it functional? Perhaps not… but is it addressing something that the therapist has detected as part of their physical assessment?

Possibly so.

It’s possible that this athlete displayed excessive crossover patterning of his right leg in the maximum velocity phase of sprinting. This then would be a useful exercise to retrain the medial stabilizers to the pelvis.

It’s possible that in the swing face he had a disconnection between the thoracic spine and the pelvis causing him to laterally flex in positions of end range hip flexion. This exercise would be then useful in providing the needed stimulus to the lateral stabilizers of the left side.

An exercise is prescribed to address factors that are found in the assessment. However we don’t know its success unless we use objective tools that are meaningful and valid to what the athlete requires.

These tools may be used within the clinic (eg force plate or dynamometers) as well as outside the clinic such as video analysis or timed segments of a sprint performance. But we should not lose sight that most commonly it is quite simply pain reduction for a particular movement pattern that the athlete had been struggling allowing them to move with more confidence.

The point is that we often observe an exercise and judge it’s suitability without knowing the athlete, knowing its purpose and observing the objective data on the effect of its implementation. We fall foul by judging such posts on social media without knowing the full story.

Coaches and therapists should be encouraged to use social media as a chance to engage and enquire, and not one to burn and demotivate those that may be trying to add to the discussion.

Over the past 7 years I don’t recall the reasoning behind this exercise selection, so I pulled myself up short of judging it’s appropriateness and instead looked at what might have been the reason and how I would measure it’s efficacy if an athlete presented to me similarly in the clinic today.

Look inside. That’s the best place to start.

Sam Leslie

Sam Leslie

Senior Physiotherapist
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