Tag: Rock n’ Roll Seattle

Stretching with the TRX

There are multiple benefits to stretching while using the TRX. You will be able to move through greater range of motion which will deepen the stretch, making it more beneficial. You will also be able to use your own body weight to “lean” into the stretch. This is a great cool down for the end of your workout since you will have to use the muscles that were just worked to assist with the stretching.

Lat Stretch
Facing the TRX anchor point, with your arms straight, reach your hips back keeping the spine straight. Relax and head and neck, allowing the head to drop between the shoulders. Keep your weight in your heels and take a few deep breaths. You will feel this all down the back and underneath the armpits.

Chest Stretch
Turning away from the TRX anchor point, keeping the arms at shoulder height and the palms facing out, walk forward until the stretch is felt in the upper chest muscles. Be sure to keep the upper neck muscles disengaged and the shoulders stay down. Once the stretch is felt you can take a small step backwards and lean your weight in to deepen the stretch. This allows gravity to assist.

Shoulder Stretch
From the chest stretch you can move directly into the shoulder stretch. Keeping the same angle, move the arms up so they are close to your ears. Again, keep the upper neck muscles disengaged and focus on your breathing and relaxing. You can also walk back some to let gravity help pull more.

Hip Flexor
With your arms out wide in the chest stretch, standing up straight, reach one foot far behind you (like a lunge). Ground yourself through the heel of the front foot and move your body forward. The stretch will be felt in the front of the thigh behind you. Keep the spine tall and the chest big.

Side-body/ Intercostal/ TFL/ IT Band/ Lat
Standing with the side of your body facing the anchor point, take the outside leg and place it behind you. Take your hands and put them on top of your head keeping the chest open and elbows pointing out. Maintaining this position, drop the hip out away from the anchor point. Avoid any kind of rotation and allow yourself to deepen into the stretch. This stretch will open up the muscles in between your rips, the muscles of your hip, and the IT band that runs the full length of your leg (GREAT FOR RUNNERS!)

Hamstring and Calf
Standing straight, facing the anchor point, place one foot forward with the heel down and toes up. Keeping the spine tall reach the hips back and lower down. You can also point the toe (like a ballet dancer) which will stretch more of the belly of the hamstring. If your hamstrings are fairly flexible, this stretch may not be felt as intensely as the other stretches.

Piriformis
Standing up straight facing the anchor point, pick up one leg and place the ankle on the thigh of the opposite leg. Keeping the spine tall, reach the hips back. The stretch will be felt through the hips of the bent leg. Avoid any kind of forward bend.

Spring Into Running with a Balanced Body

As spring approaches, we get excited about enjoying outdoor activities here in the Pacific Northwest, including running. It’s easy! Just grab a pair of running shoes and head out the door! But have you ever jumped into a running regime, only to find yourself nursing an injury a few weeks or months down the road? Whether you are new to running or training for yet another marathon, look for ways to cross-train for a balanced body so you can enjoy running all season long.

Most runners know that it is critical to have a strong core, back, hips, and pelvic muscles, but what is the best way to achieve that? One option for this cross training is Pilates. Pilates is a series of exercises given to you by an instructor who learns your weaknesses and tight areas, and then develops a program based on those needs of stretching and strengthening.

I’ve noticed that runners are generally good at Pilates; they seem to know how to engage their gluteals (bottom muscles) and are aware of their core/abdominals. However, runners also tend to have tight quadriceps (thighs) and hip flexors, as well as weak hamstrings (back of legs) and inner thighs. These imbalances in the muscles of the legs and hips can potentially cause pain and injury for runners, especially the knee, hip, ankle and foot.

Pilates helps to balance things out in the legs by strengthening the hamstrings, inner thighs, and gluteals to take pressure off the front and side of the leg, leading to better alignment and less chance of injury. Plus the hip, abdominal and back strengthening exercises help to maintain better stability and alignment through the entire body while running.

The best way to learn what your body specifically needs is to meet with a Pilates Instructor one-on-one. But, in the meantime, some at-home exercises you could start today include the following:

1) The Hundred

2) The Abdominal Series of five

  • Single leg stretch
  • Double leg stretch
  • Single straight leg stretch
  • Double straight leg stretch
  • Criss-cross

3) The Swimming

A balanced body will result in better performance, quicker recovery, and less chance of injury so you can enjoy running all season long.

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Endurance training works one of two physiological energy production systems in our body; the aerobic cardio respiratory system, while resistance or strength training works our anaerobic energy system. Energy is used primarily in the muscle fibers, often referred to as the slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. The aerobic system trains our type I muscle fibers, which are more densely packed with mitochondria which utilize oxygen to make ATP. Meanwhile, the type II resistance fibers create ATP in the absence of oxygen by splitting molecules. Since many sports and other events rely more heavily on one type of fiber more than the other, athletes and the general public often train for that specificity. Most the population is composed of each fiber type by a 50:50 split, but specificity in training can shift the ratio of fibers either way slightly.

What happens when an endurance runner trains not just for their endurance abilities but also for strength simultaneously?

There have been multiple studies on this topic, with some studies suggesting that training simultaneously with both strength and endurance takes away from the optimal performance of one to improve the other, meaning you can be highly trained for endurance or just moderately trained for both strength and endurance, or vice versa. However, in opposition to many of those studies, others have tweaked the study method in finding how both can be trained for the benefit of improving upon an already trained ability. That is to say, if a runner was to train aerobically and then perform strength exercises used in running, would they improve? In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, one of many studies was conducted on well trained endurance runners on how the addition of strength training to endurance training would affect stride ability. Groups were assigned to a periodized sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (strength exercises changed each week), a consistent sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (same workout), and an endurance only group. They found that the combination of periodized strength conditioning program with endurance training greatly resisted fatigue in overall strides than both the other groups. The exercises were sport specific to running, including squats, calf raises, hamstrings, and others. Many studies done on cyclists, soccer players, and rowers suggest the same findings.

There are several things to note on how this training would optimize performance. Strength was done at sub maximal weights and moderate repetitions – never to fatigue. This type of training will train the muscles for more endurance prolonged use, while enhancing strength. In the case of the runners the addition of strength increases the threshold of fatigue that the muscles endure by improving power. More muscular strength in the leg muscles contribute to greater power in each stride the runner takes. With that said, the studies in which competitors improved both modes of exercise were all trained with sport specific muscle groups. For instance a competing runner would not want to bulk their upper body like a rower might; it would only take away from their running ability. Studies among the general population show that those who want to improve health should train both modes for better overall conditioning. Strength and endurance training does not seem to negate one or the other for improving health and rehabilitation, but for those with an athletic specific goal, remaining sport specific is key.