Whether you’re a runner or a walker, a warmup is essential to your performance. While many runners spend 10 to 15 minutes stretching and then jog a warm-up mile or two before embarking on more challenging runs, most walkers do a few stretches – or nothing at all.  

However, through Applied Functional Science®, we know that the body needs a warm-up that prepares it to move on all three planes of motion. Traditional stretching and jogging simply can’t prepare someone for that kind of exertion. If you’re working with walkers and runners at any level, introducing a lunge matrix can help your patients achieve better results. 

How a Lunge Matrix Can Help Both Walkers Runners Boost Their Performance 

The lunge matrix was one of the first matrices created by Dr. Gary Gray in the 1970s and has helped athletes around the world increase their performance. It is a simple series of lunges that helps you get ready to move in all three planes of motion. The basic movements of a lunge matrix are: 

  • Forward and Backward in the Sagittal Plane   
  • Same Side Lateral and Opposite Side Lateral in the Frontal Plane 
  • Same Side Rotational and Opposite Side Rotational in the Transverse Plane 

Here are three things physical therapists should know about the lunge matrix and how it can help your patients. 

1. Proper Preparation Prevents Injury 

Unless you prepare for a full range of motion, you’ll feel pain when you move. If your patients are experiencing pain, tightness, or injuries, it’s time to examine their warm-up routine. The lunge matrix is a simple way to help your patients resolve chronic pain caused by insufficient preparation. And if better stretching doesn’t help resolve their issues, you know there’s likely a more in-depth issue you need to identify and address. 

2. Warm-Ups Should Occur in All 3 Planes of Motion 

The hips are at the center of the body and are meant to move in all three planes of motion. However, a lack of physical activity can cause people’s hips to tighten – and we spend more time sitting than ever. When patients fail to stretch their hips in all three planes, they remain locked in patterns of inflexibility, which sets the body up for injury. The lunge matrix lengthens and strengthens the hips in all three planes, which prepares them to move safely and effectively. 

3. Emphasize Effectiveness Over Duration 

Long periods of stretching and slow jogs are the norm for many runners. However, a short, effective lunge matrix activates your muscles and joints, and prepares them in a fraction of the time it takes to stretch and run a preliminary mile. Most walkers and runners can complete this matrix quickly and have their bodies more prepared to run than if they had spent 20 minutes stretching. An added bonus of the lunge matrix? You have more time to spend running or walking, instead of stretching.  

Your patients’ first few times performing a lunge matrix will probably be challenging if they’re not used to moving in this way. However, we know the soreness will soon disappear and be replaced by the exciting realization that their runs, hikes, and walks are better and more effective.  

RELATED: How Applied Functional Science Can Change Your PT Practice 

Improve Your Patients’ Outcomes With Gray Institute® 

At Gray Institute, we’ve been pioneers in the movement science field for over 40 years. If you find yourself stuck when treating patients and need to take your education to the next level, it’s time to explore our innovative course offerings. To register or learn more, please feel free to reach out using our simple online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!