The Turkish Get Up – Where Strength meets rehab

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The Turkish Get Up – Where Strength meets rehab

My case to warm up with the Turkish Get Up (TGU) every day!

Most of the movements we do in the box with a barbell are flexion and extension (sagittal plane) dominant movements and it is important to also do rotation and side-to-side movements (transverse and frontal planes).  By moving in the other planes it loads our joints at different angles and works on shoulder stabilizers.  Our stabilizers protect our joints, they make sure that the ball stays in the centre of the socket.  In general, when ball moves off centre you start create pressure in areas that are usually the source of pain.  That is where the Turkish Get Up (TGU) comes in: it works on your shoulder stabilizers by moving through different planes of movement.


The TGU is a great exercise and teacher.  When doing the TGU try to pay attention to the different positions of the get up and allow the movement to teach you about your body.  One main principle is how to STACK—Stacking allows you to align your skeleton to handle the weight of the kettlebell.  Look at Pavel (seen below) in the first position. You will notice that his lower shoulder blade is actively engaged to support the weight of the bell.  As you work with your positions you will notice how to organize your body and that will make the movement easier or harder. You could also test this lesson by putting a barbell overhead to see how actively engage your shoulder blade.  The more we can use our skeleton to handle the load the easier its is on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.


You can also test your stack by practicing a ‘naked get up.’ Start by having someone press down on the top of your fist at each stationary position.

Click on the pic below for a video about TGU basics.  If you are stacked well you should feel the force transfer through your body into your bottom elbow or hand.  If not you will feel discomfort usually in your shoulder, back or hips.


As a therapist I use the TGU as a diagnostic tool and also for rehab.  I can tell a lot about how a person moves and their lack of range of motions in their hips and shoulders as they transition through the get up.  You can use the TGU to help understand your own stability, or lack thereof.  Also, I use the TGU or portions of it to work on shoulder stability because I find that these exercises are a good transition from band work to loaded pressing and overhead catches.
Put it into action:
Try working on 5 TGUs on each side before every workout with a light weight and gradually build up.  Ask your self how does it feel?  Where are you having issues?  This can help unlock why you are having issues with other movements and lifts.  
Look for future articles on the TGU and its applications to movement and strength training and life.
Feel free to chat with me at the gym or send email to tell me how your TGU journey is going.  Where do you have issues?  Which positions are difficult? 
I look for to hearing from you.
-Dr. Paul Oh

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