Like dancers, every movement we complete at allongée is INTENTIONAL. Allongée is as much a workout for your brain as it is your body. In order to keep your form in check and maximize the benefits of the technique, you'll need to be thinking through the entire workout!
I am really excited about Technique Tuesday! It gives me the chance to share my knowledge with all of you in the super-informative way that we used to give "lectures" in in our original 75-minute class circa 2010!
We see lunges A LOT in classes- whether you're in Waist Away, GAMS, Thigh Bye, or BURN!, you're sure to see some lunges. Let's nail this technique.-There's 2 part lunges, and there's 4-part lunges. The "down" or the lunge part is the same for both. The "up" is the different part.
Breaking Down "The Down"
What's it doing for you?
On the down, you're working on safe alignment with a dropped heel and your standing knee bent over your ankle/toe. In this correct position, you're building strength in those muscles, tendons and ligaments which surround the knee (ATTN: ladies with knee issues) while providing a stretch for the calf and the single largest tendon in your body, your Achilles' tendon. The Achilles is super important, it controls out ability to flex and extend at the ankle joint. It controls how high our jumps are. It even controls how deep our plié is!
Meanwhile, your working leg is extending straight behind you for a stretch in the front of the hip. With this movement, you're engaging in an active stretch, which lengthens the muscles while strengthening simultaneously.
Bend that knee over the toes/ankles. If you're turned out, the knee is going to bend slightly to the side (on the same diagonal line that our toes are pointing). If you're turned in (toes forward, heel behind toes), your standing knee is going to bend forward. The deeper that you can bend your knee while keeping your heel down, the deeper the stretch for your Achilles' tendon.
For a straight working leg, think about opening through the back of the knee joint and pulling the kneecap up into the quadricep (the thigh) to lock the leg. Have flexed toes behind you so that you can prop the foot behind yourself. Turn out from the top of the hip so that it should be the first 3 toes in (big toe and two to follow) that are on the floor, and those little toes should be pointing toward the ceiling.
Breaking Down "The Up" :
4 Part Lunge-
In a 4 Part lunge, there's a "thighs together" position that happens between every lunge and working position, whether that working position be attitude, arabesque, passé, or any other number of positions we see in class! This "thighs together" position is referred to by us as assemblé, which means exactly the same as it looks/sounds. You're simply taking those two legs from the lunge and assembling them together in a straight standing position on the up, vice versa on the down.
So in a 4 part lunge you've got:
1. Lunge 2. Assemblé 3. Working (final position) 4. Assemblé to repeat from #1
What's it doing for you?
By transitioning each lunge through your assemblé, your engaging the adductors (inner thighs) on the up, and the abductors (outer thighs) on the down. That's how we get these small muscle groups in the legs working and STRONG! 💪 It's kind of like a little Thigh Bye action in every class!
In a 2 Part Lunge-
We see these less often, and use them as a little extra work for the core. By taking the leg straight away from you in a lunge and pulling from that low position to your final working position, the abs must be engaged. You'll see this in core cardio and in Waist Away with curtsies where your primary objective is to open the arms and legs away from the center, and then bring them in to a more central position by means of engaging the core.