A fish out of water, flopping around on the ground. That’s what the Contralateral Limb Raise looks like.
It’s an odd-looking exercise, but its benefits are pretty remarkable. Not just for fish, but for people too. This is one of those exotic exercises that you can do with little or no equipment, and it offers a big return.
Stretch It Out
One of the best parts about the Contralateral Limb Raise is that it encourages stretching and elongation of the spine. The whole body is engaged with these movements, but it’s engaged in such a way that it comes from the center of the body. This promotes stability throughout the torso and improved control over the limbs.
To do the exercise, you’ll need a clear, flat space.
- This exercise begins on the floor, arms straight together overhead and legs together below. Face is down, nose resting on the floor. Toes are pointed, palms face each other. Relax and align the spine.
- On an exhale, tighten the core muscles and focus on spine stability. Look up, lifting the head off the ground so that you can gaze forward slightly. Keep the neck aligned.
- Slowly raise one arm until it’s a few inches off the floor while simultaneously raising the opposite leg off the floor a few inches.
- Keep the arm extended and be careful not to rotate the shoulders. Also be careful not to arch the back, but again to keep the spine in alignment from your tailbone to the top of your head.
- Hold for a moment.
- Inhale while slowly lowering the arm and leg to the starting position, again keeping the lower back and hips still.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Though this exercise is simple and easy to do, the focus should be on control. It’s a great exercise for individuals who want to improve their control and extension.
Stabilize Your Spine
The biggest benefit of this exercise is the spine stabilization that it brings.
The Contralateral Limb Raise improves coordination and fine movement when done properly. It has a low risk of injury too, which makes it wonderful for individuals who are new to fitness or who are recovering from injury. Particularly those who are recovering from back issues and need to strengthen both the lower and upper back muscles.
An added benefit of the Contralateral Limb Raise is that it works to tone the glutes and the hip flexors. These large muscle groups play a major role in spine stability, so improving their tone and strength will again help to alleviate back issues. The triceps and trapezius muscle across the upper back are engaged to a lesser degree with this exercise, but they do benefit from the improved control that it brings to the body.
There are some widely used variations of the Contralateral Limb Raise, which incorporate the Downward Facing Dog pose from yoga or the simple Push-Up.
A fun fact is that this exercise is also known as the “Superman” exercise! It’s easy to see why, with it’s prone positioning and arms stretched out ahead. Who knows, maybe with enough practice you’ll be able to fly just like the Man of Steel.