The shoulder bridge exercise is an exercise as a physiotherapist I have given to many of my patients for many different reasons. As you create your bridge, weight-bearing through the shoulders, you are working lots of different muscles as well as mobilising the spine.
What muscles does the bridge work?
The bridge exercise works the posterior leg muscles including the glutes and hamstrings. It also works the abdominals (including the transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus), and the errector spinae (back) muscles. As you work into bridge you also might feel a stretch through the quadricep (thigh) muscles. There are other more advanced variations of the bridge exercises that would also work the hip flexors and oblique muscles.
What is the bridge exercise good for?
The bridge exercise is good for strengthening the glutes, hamstring, back and abdominal muscles as well as mobilising the spine. It is a good exercise for back pain, hip pain, pelvic and knee pain as it works to build strength in these areas and flexibility. The bridge exercise can also be good for mobilising the hip and knee joints.
How do you do a bridge?
Lay on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your bottom and your arms rested by your side. Take a deep breath in, as you exhale flatten your lower back to the floor as though you are lifting your tailbone to the ceiling. Visualise each vertebrae leaving the floor one by one until you are weight-bearing through your shoulders. Your head should feel relaxed so make sure you are not pushing your head down to the floor. You should be aware of your buttock muscles working to hold the lift. When you are ready to inhale, return back down to the mat one vertebrae at a time starting from the upper back, working your way down through the mid back then eventually the lower back. If during the exercise you feel cramp in your hamstring muscles, walk your feet a little nearer your hips.
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