The most common mistakes we see with control are through the SL RDL and split-squats/lunges.
Most of the time the stance is too narrow or the distribution of load gets mishandled starting down at the foot.
People will tend to hang out on the outside of their foot, wobbling their way through an exercise and then their knee and hips go every which way.
One of the most important factors with foot contact is to keep the whole heel on the ground, and really sense that you can feel pressure through it. From there, you want the big toe to remain on the ground as well. This will prevent you from swaying to the outside of the foot.
Once the foot position is established, another useful way to get the most bang for your buck is to use extra support to make your body feel grounded.
That’s why we like to place our back foot on the wall for activities like these as it gives you more support and allows you to still get the full benefits of the exercise.
They key points to be made with a SL RDL are to feel the hamstrings, glutes, abs, and some inner thigh on the working leg side.
If you keep the same foot contact as described above while pushing, you can get everything you are looking for and more.
As you groove the pattern, you would want to decrease the support by taking the foot off the wall, but still remaining with it on the ground. (see below)
From there, you can progress to lifting it off the ground at the bottom.
Many times people jump the gun and do a windmill looking RDL where the back like flys out to the side and they actually turn out of the working side hip. We don’t want that (see below)
For split-squats and lunges, we still maintain our same foot cues to keep everything in line, but want to really focus on keeping the heel on the ground as the knee tracks forward, along with
the back side knee staying straight in line with the torso. (see below).
The key muscles to feel on these exercises are the glutes, quads, and abs of the working side leg.
You would still have the foot on the wall to start as shown above, but as you progress, work on loading the front leg and holding the knee slightly off the ground in an ISO to control the position. (below).
As you progress to a walking lunge, the spacing and stance all remains the same. As you step forward, feel the front heel contact and that you are in the same starting stance as a split squat. As you rise out of the lunge, approach to the top, and then bring your back leg forward and off the ground.
Those are some quick ways to improve the stability and balance of the lower body within the gym, and those foot cues can remain true for other exercise like a step up as well.
Still need help with gaining control in your exercises?
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Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and enjoys to help active adults maintain their lifestyle and provide natural solutions to their pain.