Being able to do a proper push up with not only assist you in getting in better shape, but if done properly can also solve many aches and pains in the chest, back, shoulder, and neck region.  We must first know what we are going to accomplish by pushing.

Pushing is performed by the Chest muscles and work with other muscle groups on the front side of the body (abs, hip flexors, quads) to stabilize the spine during movement. This muscle group is known as the “anterior chain”.  If these muscle groups are slightly weak, tight, chronically shortened, or unhealthy we will have a harder time stabilizing the spine causing us to activate with other muscle groups to stabilize the spine.

The most common faulty pattern we see is stabilizing the spine with the upper traps and front deltoids (shoulders), causing us to flare our elbows out.

To correct this faulty motor pattern setup is critical:

    • Reduce the amount of load that is required because the proper muscle group (anterior chain) is slightly weak.
      • Increasing the height of the platform we are pushing off of will reduce the amount of gravity (load). You can feel this if you were to try and do a push up facing the wall, as there is almost no gravity load.
    • Bring the elbows in allowing us to add to the anterior chain.
    • Neutral neck position, not too flexed, not too extended.
    • Neutral spine by curling under the pelvis activating our lower abs (flat back).

Performing the movement:

The Load:

Keep our setup keys intact, lower the sternum or breast plate towards the platform. As you lower, the gravity load is placed on your spine. You should feel your anterior chain, or front side of the body, lengthening. As the anterior chain lengthens (down stroke) the back side of your body (posterior chain) shortens. You can feel this by keeping the elbows in, using your lats, and squeezing the shoulder blades. You also want to inhale as you lower towards the platform.

The Push:

You’ve reached the platform, your spine is stable, you’ve inhaled, and the gun is loaded. Exhale and squeeze the chest muscles keeping the elbows in. If this feels hard to do then increase the height of the platform.

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