By Victoria Athey BSc MSc MCSP. Physiotherapist and Sports Massage Therapist at 360Athletic
No not the man made thing we build to get across rivers, the exercise called ‘bridge’ is used a lot by us physiotherapists especially during early rehabilitation stages. Why? Its a ‘bang-for-your-buck’ exercise as it strengths your gluteals, hamstrings alongwith your core. Plus its simple, functional and easy to do without fancy equipment.
There are many variations of the bridge making it a great versatile exercise easy to find a type to prescribe for individuals with different pains or problems. The big issue alot of people run into is NOT feeling the exercise working or NOT knowing if you are doing it correctly. Therefore we have pulled together some of our favourite variations with tips to help you improve your technique and get the most from this amazing exercise.
The Bridge Basics:
Benefits: Promotes glute strength and activation
Tips: Knees 90 degrees or closer to your bottom during set-up, dig heels into the ground and imagine pulling towards your bottom, hips above your ribs level, back remains flat stop movement before it begins to arch.
Benefits: Promotes hamstring strength and activation
Tips: Knee 90 or less, set up your feet further away from your bottom, walk feet further away to increase tension on hamstrings, hips above your ribs level, back remains flat stop movement before it begins to arch.
Too easy? If your hamstring or gluteal bridges are becoming a walk in the park it may be time to progress them!
Pop your feet on a step, chair or even on a gym ball for the added balance challenge
Single leg bridges:
Double the load by placing all your weight through one leg (similar to adding plates to a barbell), great for checking and re-correcting imbalances in strength side to side.
Single leg bridges with leg circles:
Really challenge your control and stability for your lower back, pelvis, abdominals, hamstrings and glutes with this variation. Also great for activating your side glutes (gluteal medius) making it a superb exercise for runners in particular.