Monday, October 25, 2010

Asana Analysis: High Lunge (Crescent) Pose

This standing posture is a good way to strengthen the legs and improve flexibility of the front body, the hip flexors and foot muscles.

Muscles Strengthened: Front leg - quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, piriformis, external rotators of the hip. Rear leg - quadriceps, gluteus maximus. Torso - transverse abdominus, erector spinae. Arms - deltoids, triceps, rotator cuff muscles.

Muscles Stretched: Rear leg - iliacus, psoas, gastrocnemius, plantar foot muscles, flexor hallicus longus. Torso - abdominals.

Points of Body Awareness:
*The shoulders and pelvis should be square to the top edge of your mat.
*The front shin bone is perpendicular to the floor, with the knee in line over the ankle.
*The front thigh bone should come close to parallel with the floor.
*Engage the quadricep muscles to keep the leg as strait and strong as possible. 
*Reach overhead with the elbows and fingers extended but keep the tops of the shoulders relaxed away from the ears.
*Feel a stable foundation in the legs. Engage the pelvic floor. Draw the navel in toward the spine.
*Optional element: Backbend through the upper spine (thoracic) by lifting up from the breastbone. Drop the head back only if you can do so without discomfort.
*Are you still relaxed in the jaw, the toes and the tops of the shoulders?
*Breath deeply for about 6 breath cycles. Feel the breath circulating down into the legs.

To Modify: Press the back heel against a wall for more stability. Use support under the front thigh, such as a chair or exercise ball, if the legs are weak or fatigued. If the back-bending element is uncomfortable or if you prefer to focus on the legs, keep the torso upright.

PT Notes: High Lunge is a good alternative to Warrior I, which is often difficult or painful for patients with injuries of the lumbar spine, SI joint, hip, ankle or foot.

This is a good posture for runners and bikers who often have a great deal of tightness of the anterior body, especially the iliopsoas and abdominals.

Obviously cation must be used for patients with spinal problems aggravated by extension however this is an easy posture to modify for a range of abilities.

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