The Crazy Football Move & Help from Jessi Stensland

This winter I've enjoyed attending Dustin Maher’s Fit Fun Bootcamps. We do a mix of hi-intensity intervals with weights, core work and cardio. A few times this winter we did a simple looking exercise that I had trouble with.

You roll on your back in a football and next go into a standing jump. (The woman in this NBC15 news clip with Dustin demonstrates the exercise “jump up-roll back-jump up.”)

To modify I could use my hands to help move from sitting to standing, but I still had issues. It was a little easier if I could cross my legs. I was thinking about the individual movements involved in this exercise and I thought of Jessi Stensland & MovementU. So I asked for help!
Sara: What MovementU principles or performance exercises would you apply to help me improve? I have tight hips and very tight Achilles tendons.

Jessi Stensland:
Great question Sara!!
I watched the video and then proceeded to do the exercise myself, since its not one I normally do. I did it, but it definitely took some body awareness as to what was going to get me through that motion properly. No matter what movement you want to do, whether the Jump Up-Roll Back-Jump Up or a proper running stride or pedal stroke, the same principles are going to help you perform the movement more efficiently and powerfully. We talk about all of this at MovementU. Here’s how I would apply it in this case.

In a nutshell:
1. Self-massage ‘tight’ soft-tissue (muscles, tendons, etc) to increase mobility of your joints.
2. Stabilize your spine with your abs.
3. Use your glutes.

You mentioned tight hips and Achilles tendons.
Before you even begin to move, you’ll want to do a bit of self-myofascial release (in other words, self-massage) to get the blood flowing and loosen up the tissues surrounding the joints. This way you’ll increase the range of motion in your hips before you even move. This can be done with a foam roller (TP Therapy’s new GRID is killer!) Take a couple of minutes (or more) rolling out some of the soft-tissue attached to your hips. Depending on how much time you have, roll out any/all of your lower back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, IT Band and even abdominals (I sometimes use my own hands for this.) Also, for your Achilles tendon, be sure to roll out your calf muscles as well. We review self-massage techniques in the recovery session at MovementU.

To increase the mobility in your spine a bit more, get on all fours and actively flex and extend your spine 5-6 times. The flexibility through your spine will affect your ability to get your body mass in the proper position over your feet, so that you can then push up strongly to reach the standing position.

Next, your ability to keep your spine stabilized is key. At MovementU we talk about this extensively. You want your abdominal muscles active throughout the movement. You’ll have a lot better control of the other parts of your body and get the most out of your muscular strength if you are able to do this.

A great way to train this is to practice maintaining a neutral spine throughout all of your movements both in life and training. To doing so, you must turn on your abdominals and you keep your back extensors relaxed. Here is a great article that explains neutral spine:
Activate and strengthen your abdominals in the proper movement patterns during glute bridges, lunges and squat patterns (using single and double leg and varying depths…going as deep as you can while maintaining neutral spine.)

Once you stablize your spine in the movement, you’re going to want to rely on your prime movers, your glutes, to get you from that seated position to standing, and ultimately jumping. Your ability to use your glutes is key. Its another hot topic throughout the day at MovementU. You’ll want to make sure they’re working for you by activating them with those same exercises: the glute bridge, lunge-in-place or squat. The lunge is a great way to increase hip mobility and help you use your glutes at all ranges of motion, like you’re trying to do in this movement.

Tying it all together…to perform the Jump Up-Roll Back-Jump Up:

  1. First, momentum and some abdominal strength will get your body into the first position. Your core abdominal muscles should be strongly engaged throughout the entire motion.
  2. Next you’ll stabilize with the glutes as you start pushing through the heels, and continue using your glute strength, while still engaging your abdominals, as you roll from your heel to your midfoot and finally through your toes to perform the jump.
  3. Ultimately your joint mobility, abdominal strength and glute strength will be the key players. Learn lots more about them all at MovementU!!

    Jessi Stensland is a professional endurance athlete and movement specialist. See class schedules at Watch this short video to get a sense of what MovementU is like.

Questions for You:
1- Can you do the crazy football move?
2- Do you practice neutral spine?
3- What would you like to know more about from this post?

Thanks Jessi!! I can't wait to attend MovementU next weekend!


ShirleyPerly said...

That is tough!

I could only do one but on a very cushy 2" gymnastics mat we have. On my carpet I totally failed as I get stuck because of my super sharp tailbone (fractured it as a kid). I have the same problem doing roll-ups on anything but a very cushy mat. I love prone type of ab exercises (planks, etc) and practice neutral spine there. Probably should do much more.

Fe-lady said...

Use a five lb. medicine ball to really make it count!

Sara Cox Landolt said...

ShirleyPerly- thanks so much for stopping by! I love planks too! I'm excited to learn more this weekend & will share tips here.

Fe-lady: YES that would definitely make it hurt more. :-)