Push-Ups: Knees VS Toes
Pushups are one of the best exercises! However, they can also be one of the most challenging for many people. I want to discuss the importance of practicing push ups from your toes rather than your knees. When a pushup is properly executed, the feet are together, and the glutes and core are engaged. Everything should be tight as the body moves as one unit through the range of motion. When a pushup is performed from the knees it is more challenging to engage the glutes and core. Your low back is more likely to be in a hyperextended position when you are on your knees.
Push ups are not just an upper body exercise. They require core strength and proper movement patterning. Often times when we are going through the Functional Movement Screen and we look at the Trunk Stability Pushup (the red band) we see people lift their chest off the floor first and their hips sag. Gray Cook, who developed the FMS, states that “The Trunk Stability Push up is used as a basic observation of reflex core stabilization, and is not a test or measure of upper body strength. The goal is to initiate movement with the upper extremities in a push up pattern without allowing movement in the spine or hips.” Therefore, if you practice push ups from your knees you are not training the core to execute the way it should in a push up from the toes.
I want to encourage you to work on the eccentric (the lowering phase) part of the pushup. Eccentrics are a great way to build strength and you will be recruiting your glutes and core! Take your time on the lowering phase of the pushup (3-5 seconds) and focus on making sure that your chest makes contact with the floor before your hips. You may feel like towards the bottom of the movement you are just flopping on the ground but that is ok! As you continue to work on them you will flop a little less each time. You can also do Band Assisted Push ups which will help keep your hips in the proper position while you work on core stabilization. Keep working at it and you will see improvements!