Before we go any further, let’s take a look at what a Donkey Kick is, done correctly.
There are several cues for nailing this exercise, and each one has a purpose. Once you read the cues, you will start to get the idea. This exercise does so many things for your body, that it truly is a Big Bang for your (theoretical) buck.
First, get on all fours on a mat, if possible. If your knees are a bit sensitive when you do this, you can put a thin blanket or towel beneath them for a cushion. Not too thick, however, since that will alter your alignment during this exercise.
Next, check a few things out.
Your head and neck need to be in neutral. That is, not looking down or up. You want to keep it in alignment with the rest of your spine.
Your hands need to be below your shoulders, and about as wide as your shoulders. The entire shoulder area, front and back, is there to support the weight of your upper body. This is a great time to make sure that your shoulders are doing that, and are not rounded, collapsing, or sagging. This is the position your shoulders are meant to be in as you go about your day, sitting, standing, or whatever.
Your spine needs to be neutral. Check to make sure that your back is not rounded or sagging. You will need to press in with your abdominals a bit in order to stop this from happening. It will need to be a conscious effort, just like the other things that you are checking out for this exercise.
Now you are set.
Take one leg, keeping the knee bent, and the foot flexed toward your shin. Left the leg up, using your butt muscles, until your foot is flat and facing the ceiling. Here you can appreciate the other name for this exercise, “Pizza Foot”. Pretend you are able to hold a pizza box on top of that foot. While you are doing this, make sure you don’t let things sag! Your butt is the main mover here. Do not let your low back or even any part of your torso help with this move. Keep your hip bones facing the floor so that you don’t roll your pelvis side to side as you do this. Everything stays as is except the moving leg.
Bring the knee back to the floor, and repeat this movement 10-12 times. Do the other side, making sure not to lose your form! Check it all again.
Why this is such a great exercise.
By now you have probably figured out why this is such a great exercise. But, just in case, here’s a few of the high points:
- It lets you become aware of how it feels to be in good alignment, with shoulders and core supporting you.
- It lets your butt muscles be the star. The more you can train your butt to be the main muscle you use when you bring your leg to the back, the better off you will be. It means you will be averting low back overuse and possibly pain.
- It helps you to walk efficiently, using your butt muscle more than your hamstrings or low back. You are also training your hips to remain stable so that your walking gait does not stress your hips, knees, or back. In addition, it reinforces using your core as you walk or do other activities.
- It heightens your awareness and reminds you to sit up straight if/when you are sitting. If you use your core and good shoulder alignment, it will keep you from slouching or rounding your back. You will also be more aware of sitting right on top of our sitz bones, so that your pelvis doesn’t tilt forward or back. All of these things will help to keep compression stress off of your spine.
The effect of all this is to give you more energy, better posture, a more solid core, and train your muscles to work together more efficiently. This makes for a nice Big Bang, all in one exercise!
All the best
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