In an age where internet challenges and trends change so quickly, the real challenge is keeping up with them all! However, the latest challenge that I’ve come across via social media is called “The Paper Pick-Up Challenge.” By now, I’m certain that many of you reading this blog have heard of this challenge. If you have not, then I’ll warn you – to hear of it is also to attempt it!
The task seems simple enough, pick up a piece of paper that is folded like a tent from the floor only using your mouth. The difficult part is that you must not allow any other body part to touch the floor except the balancing foot throughout the whole task! Please do not perform this challenge if you are currently injured or have any known functional impairments that may make this activity unsafe.
As a physical therapist, this challenge immediately struck me, as it is quite the test of balance, strength and joint mobility. When this challenge is done successfully it is quite impressive! Otherwise the “fails” can be hilarious (as long as nobody gets hurt). In observing others’ attempts and in trying (and failing) “The Paper Pick-Up Challenge” myself, I began to take note and consider the primary factors that are at play throughout the kinetic chain as we attempt this challenge. I’ve also listed one of my favorite exercises in each section that might be helpful to incorporate in your personal fitness regimens to help you crush “The Paper Pick-Up Challenge!”
Balance: Unilateral (One-legged) balance is being challenged dynamically by not only balancing on one leg, but also being able to maintain that balance throughout the task without any assistance of hands or the opposite foot! Any balance deficits you have will be exposed quickly within the first second of the attempt of this challenge.
Exercise: Unilateral three-way kick
Strength: While balancing on one leg, you must lower yourself toward the floor in effort to pick up the paper with your mouth only. In order to do this successfully, eccentric quad strength is vital! Eccentric strength, in this case, refers to the quads’ ability to contract as the muscle lengthens during your descent onto the fixed stance leg. Deficits in eccentric quad strength will be apparent in any inability to control the unilateral squat necessary in performing the paper pick-up. Back extensors are also functioning as stabilizers through this movement, thus weakness in mid to low back musculature can lead to fatigue and/or failure in your attempt.
Exercise: Single Leg Squats
Exercise: Cone Pick-Ups
Mobility: Mobility is an integral component to crush “The Paper Pick-Up Challenge.” It is imperative that you have full mobility in the mid to low back and down the kinetic chain to the knee and hip to be able to bend over far enough to reach the folded paper with your mouth. Any impairments in spinal flexion (forward bending), knee bending, and/or hip flexion will limit your ability to complete this task even if your balance and strength are off the charts! Perhaps less obvious is the necessary ankle mobility on the stance leg during this challenge. Ankle dorsiflexion is the action of the top of the foot moving closer to the shin—this action is occurring on the stance leg as you lower your center of mass toward the floor. Deficits in ankle dorsiflexion mobility can provide a restriction in your ability to go deeper into the unilateral squat necessary in the final phase of the paper pick-up. Often times, tightness in the calf can lead to decreased ankle dorsiflexion; other times the restriction is joint related.
Exercise: Ankle Dorsiflexion Self-Mobilization in Half-Kneeling
Challenging yourself daily with your health and fitness goals is a good thing, however it is important to not get discouraged if you are unable to successfully complete the paper challenge. This challenge takes a lot of balance and strength, so it is definitely something to work toward, and the aforementioned exercises can help you along the way.
Have you heard of the #PaperPickUpChallenge? Kevin from Athletico #Lincolnshire makes this internet challenge look easy, but it actually takes quite a bit of balance, strength and joint mobility. Click the link in our bio for a list of exercises that can help those who attempt the challenge succeed. ? #AthleticoPT #PaperChallenge #InternetChallenge