Life in the body expresses itself in three dimensions. Movement specialists label these the Sagital Plane, the Frontal Plane and the Transverse Plane.
Sagital: front to back movement. Think bending to pick something up off a counter.
Frontal: side to side movement. Think jumping jacks.
Tranverse: rotational movement. Think swinging a golf club, or curtseying.
The twist. Rotational movements are small, but critically important.
The greatest athletes are the ones who naturally and effortlessly move their bodies through all three planes, through multi-dimensional space.
Have you ever considered why a dancer or martial artist can flow so beautifully through space while a bodybuilder, rower or cyclist seems stiff, perhaps robotic? Look no further than the way they train, how many reps they perform in a single plane of motion.
When deciding about how to train smarter, make sure that training in three planes is one of the most important considerations in your program. This means including all three planes in your strength, mobility and cardio training.
I always try to start my day – and my workouts – with a mobility prep that moves my body in three planes from head to toe. Each movement should be performed four times.
- Start with the head. Move it gently but fully, up and down, side to side and into rotation.
- Next the shoulders and arms. Straight arms up and down in front of the body, then side to side. While holding the arms out from the sides, twist one arm all the way toward the front, from the shoulder, while simultaneously turning the other arm all the way out.
- Next is the mid-spine or thorax. While keeping your head steady, cave your chest and stomach in. Then reverse that movement: lift your chest gently up to the sky on a 45-degree angle. Next open your feet wider than shoulder width and keep your knees straight. Raise one arm up and side bend your body into the opposite direction. Change arms and alternate sides. The final plane in the thoracic area is to stand straight and without moving your low back or head, gently rotate your torso from side to side.
- The pelvis is next. Put your hands on your hips and tilt your pelvis front to back and then side to side. Now, without moving your thorax, rotate the pelvis forward, one side at a time.
- Working our way down the legs, place your hands on bent knees and gently bend and straighten. Next, move side to side, like a skier on the moguls. Finally, rotate the knee joints in circular motions. Both directions.
- Finally, the feet and ankles. Lift one foot off the ground (if needed you can do this sitting or holding onto something). Point and flex the foot. Then guided by your foot instep, move the instep down and then up (this is called eversion and inversion). Not a large movement. The last movement is to circle your foot and ankle in both directions.
This completes a 3-D body movement scan. On top of the obvious benefit of gently and powerfully training your body to move in all three planes, these exercises open your mind…literally. But that will have to wait for another blog post.