Solve Pain With The Turkish Get Up


The Turkish get up is a great exercise to help improve your ability to connect your shoulders, core, and pelvis. To be able to perform this exercise you need adequate shoulder stability and the neuromuscular control to connect all of the correct movement together. Although this is a fairly advanced movement it can be broken down into phases. In addition each phase has its own benefits and can be performed in isolation.

This exercise is a great whole body exercise to help improve neuromuscular control and positioning strength to be able to perform more complex lifts.


How to perform correctly

Some symptoms you may experience if you are performing this exercise incorrectly are:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Low back pain
  • Knee pain

Phases

  1. Half bridge (phase 1)
  2. Starfish (phase 2)
  3. Leg sweep (phase 3)
  4. Windmill (phase 4)
  5. Overhead lunge (phase 5)

Phase 1: Half bridge

This movement is great if you are having pain during your overhead exercises. This is usually indicative of poor scapular movements and stability. This phase will help improve your body’s ability to properly position your scapula so it is able to accept a load overhead.

Main cue from your performance therapist: push through the inside of the foot of the knee that is bent, drive through your bent elbow, and punch towards the ceiling.


Phase 2: Starfish

This phase is a great exercise to perform if you are having trouble activating your glutes and hamstring during your lifts. You will know you are having trouble with this if your low back feels tight after deadlifts or squats. This means that you letting your low back muscles take over the movement. You should not move on to this phase unless you are able to perform five good repetitions of phase 1 without feeling like your back is performing the movement or without having shoulder pain. During this phase your body is working to continue to build tension in your posterior chain to properly perform later phases.

Main cue from your performance therapist: push through the entire foot of the knee that is bent and engage those glutes!


Phase 3: Leg Sweep

The key for this phase is making sure that you are placing your foot in the right place to set yourself up for success during the next two phases. This phase requires the ability control movement of your lower extremity while maintaining tension in your posterior chain and core. Therefore you should not progress to this phase unless you have mastered the above phases.

Main cue from your performance therapist: Place your knee about a foot behind from you planted foot and maintain tension in the glute of your planted foot.


Phase 4: Windmill  

This phase again, is an exercise to help you learn about to use your glutes and not your back to perform a movement (noticing a trend here??). If you are experiencing low back pain or hip pain during your squat (especially if you are going below parallel) this exercise is for you. This movement is a little more advanced than the previous phases so do not attempt this phase until you are able to perform five good repetitions of the previous phases.

Main cue from your performance therapist: drive through the inside of the planted foot and think about pushing that hip down to bring you into that upright position.


Phase 5: Overhead Reverse Lunge

The last phase of your turkish get up is when you will use all of the tension in your posterior chain that you have been working to build up in the previous phases. The key to this phase is to push throughout back leg to stand up. It should almost feel as though you are going backwards first and then standing up. Again, you should not feel this tension in your low back, if you are return back to the beginning of the the turkish get up and master each phase. This exercise in isolation is great if you are experiencing low back pain as long as you are properly using your glute.

Main cue from your performance therapist: keep the tension in your glutes not your low back. It should feel as though you are trying you push the floor away and behind you.


In summary,

The Turkish get up is a great exercise to address many different positional strength issues. Although, it is frequently performed incorrectly which can lead to pain and movement dysfunctions. Use these videos and cues to assist you in performing these movements correctly. If you are still experiencing pain or have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us for a free discovery consultation.

-Dr. Chelsea Schuman

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