Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Hip

If you're a reader of my other blog, then you know I've been out for a while with an ITB injury. Aside from whining about it (quite a bit!) I am also working to fix the things that got me to this point in the first place. One of them is a lack of hip and butt strengthening exercises in my strength routine.

Turns out, I'm not alone in having weak glutes and hips--most runners neglect these areas and it sometimes comes back to haunt them. To avoid ending up with an injury that is partly the result of weak hips and glutes, try some of these strengthening exercises that I've recently added to my routine:
  • Hip thrusts--Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground. Lift one leg and point it towards the ceiling. Slowly lift your butt off the ground and thrust your leg up. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  • Bridges--You can do these in the same position as above, or make it even tougher by placing your feet on a stability ball. Simply raise your butt off the ground until your body forms a line, pause, and return slowly to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
  • Lateral raises--Lie on your side with legs out straight. Slowly lift your leg up and back down again (think old Jane Fonda videos!). Repeat 10 times on each side. To make it tougher, place a Theraband around your ankles.
  • Clam shells--Lie on your side with knees bent to about 45 degrees. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee up and then back down. Repeat 10 times on each side. Again, make it more difficult with a Theraband, this time around your knees.
  • Lateral steps--Place a Theraband around your ankles in a standing position. Squat slightly and take 10 steps in one direction, stop and then take 10 steps in the other direction. That's one set.
Start with one set of each move and work up to two or three as you get stronger. There are other exercises you can find as well, but these are a few basic moves that can go a long way to helping neglected muscles. I hope it helps keep you on the road!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Do as I say, not as I do!

I'm a big believer in the idea that injuries don't just "happen." That is, 99 percent of the time, if you're injured, it's probably something you did wrong. So as a coach, I'm a bit embarrassed at the fact that I am currently sitting out right now with an ITB injury.

Looking back, I can see where my errors were: Laziness in my strength routine, neglecting important areas like my hips and glutes. And even bigger than that, not stopping running for a week or so when my leg started really flaring up. Here's how you can avoid the same mistakes:
  • It's been said 1,000 times, but here I go again--don't run through pain! If you're hurting somewhere--not just sore--running isn't going to make it go away. This applies to those pains that seem to subside as you get into your run, too. You simply can't run through an injury.
  • Take time off as soon as you realize that you're really hurting. The longer you run through the pain in denial (like I did), the longer you'll have to take off. Nipping it in the bud at the onset is your best bet for a speedy recovery.
  • Examine how you got the pain in the first place--With my ITB, I know now that I had not paid enough attention to my hip and glute strength. Often times, injuries are simply the result of too much/too soon or not enough rest. Figure out your root cause and fix it.
  • Take the time to strength train and stretch, regularly. I read recently that elites spend twice the amount of time on strength and flexibility that they do actually running. Yes, it's not the fun part of training, but if it keeps you out there, it's worth it.
  • Make ice your friend. When you do have a nagging pain, pull out the ice packs asap.
It's really that simple.