Tag Archives: mobility

4 Hip Stretches for Healthy Running

Loose hips are very important to any athlete.  Unfortunately they often get overlooked in favor of large muscle groups like the quad, hamstring and calf that are easier to stretch.  With hip extension being a major player in quality running form, tight hips can really hold you back.  Not any more!  Loose hips mean your glutes, piriformis, hip flexors, hamstring and quad can all move through a full range of motion with ease.  All of those muscles play a big part in strong running and keeping them happy can lower your risk of injury while improving speed.  Here are four simple hip stretches that will open you running powerhouse up.

Low Lunge.  This simple hip opener is a classic.  It opens the hip flexors and gets them ready to hip stretchesallow that all important hip extension.  Beginning in a lunging position with your back knee on the ground, push the front foot away, engage your glutes and drive your hips forward.

hip stretchesFigure Four.  Hit major muscle groups including the glutes and lower back along with your hips in Figure Four.  Being laying on your back.  Raise both knees over your hips and cross one ankle over the other knee.  This is one of the best stretches you can do after a workout to aid recovery and stay ready for your next session.

Piriformis Stretch.  The piriformis is often mistaken for the glute.  Instead, it’s buried deep behind the gluteus maximus and rotates the hip outward.  While you’ll also hit this muscle in a Figure Four but the spinal rotation here is a nice touch.  Begin with both legs out straight.  Cross one leg over the other and place the foot flat on the ground.  Use your elbow on the outside of your bent knee to rotate away from the flat leg.

hip stretchesPigeon.  This tough movement will open your hips right up.  To perform it begin in a plank or downward dog position.  Cross the leg of the hip you want to open in front of the other, aiming your foot towards the opposite hip.  Rest your elbow on the floor as you ease deeper into the stretch.

Adding these hip stretches to your warm-up, post run or strength routines, even all three, will not only feel great but make you a more mobile, injury resistant runner.

Coach Meredith

Running Books for Your Reading List

There’s only one thing runners like to do more than run.  That’s talk about running but unfortunately our vocal cords occasionally need a break.  At that time, break out this reading list featuring some of Team ECRP‘s favorite, and most useful, running related books.

Pre (Jordan) – The story of America’s most fabled tracklete, Pre is a biography of Steve Prefontaine.  Well crafted and uncomplicated this exciting tale lends itself to page turning.  reading listWhile also providing a bit of education on the history of track and field, this short novel should be on every runner’s shelf.

Eat & Run (Jurek) – This chronicle of Scott Jurek’s ‘unlikely journey’ to ultramarathon greatness is peppered with lots of smiles and tasty recipes.  With a main focus on how nutrition effects performance, Eat & Run is a great resource for vegetarian and vegan athletes.  Even for meat eaters these recipes are worth a try.

Anatomy for Runners (Dicharry) – Get ready to learn.  Chock full of knowledge, Jay Dicharry’s guide will lead you to happier and healthier running.  Doesn’t the subtitle ‘Unlocking Your Potential for Health, Speed and Injury Prevention’ sound enticing?  Anatomy features exercises and explanations that are easy to understand and process.  A must read for runners serious about improving.

Born to Run (McDougall) – This massive best seller should definitely be on your reading list.  Even if you’ve already covered it, consider cracking it open again.  This epic tale of one runner’s desire to end foot pain started the minimalist movement.  No matter how you feel about zero drop shoes, the story of Mexico’s Tarahumara will inspire you and that next marathon registration.

Ready to Run (Starrett) – ‘Unlocking your potential to run naturally’ is Dr. Kelly Starrett’s goal with this big book.  So get ready.  This guide will teach you more about movement that you likely care to know but it’s 100% worth it.  The founder of MobilityWOD.com has worked with professional athletes from all fields of play and wants you to become a stronger, more efficient runner.

Build Your Running Body (MacGill/Swartz/Breyer) – Bob Anderson, the founder of Runner’s World, calls this the ‘best running book ever’ and there’s no arguing with that.  Yes, it’s full of physiology and science however it’s easy to understand and digest.  Following the guidelines in this book will help you run faster, reduce injury risk and have more fun.

Coach Meredith

5 Yoga Poses for Runners

Yoga is an excellent tool for runners to have in their fitness toolbox.  While they don’t need tons of static flexibility, which can actually take power away from you, it is important to have strength through a full range of motion at all joints, especially the hips.  Spending a few minutes each day going through some or all five of these yoga poses will also help relieve muscle soreness and provide relaxation.

Downward Facing Dogyoga poses
An easy pose to do just about anywhere, down dog is an excellent way to wrap up a workout.  It stretches your arms, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, calves and feet.  Hang out like your pup for up to three minutes taking deep breaths to build arm and leg strength while reaping the pose’s calming effects.

yoga posesWarrior 2
This standing pose will help you open those post run hips.  With feet 3.5-4 feet apart and your back foot turned out, reach from your shoulders with arms parallel to the ground.  Sink down until your front thigh is also parallel to the ground while your torso stays tall over your hips.  Perform on both sides to get all of the leg, hip, groin and ankle stretching and strengthening benefits.

Plankyoga poses
Of all the yoga poses, this one is one of the most simple.  Great for stabilizing your core, make sure you’re hips stay high and your shoulders are directly over your wrists or elbow when performing it.  Use this simplest plank to improve your running posture while strengthening your shoulders, arms and wrists.

Low Lunge
yoga posesThis hip opener is perfect for both before and after your run.  After stepping back with one leg be sure to keep your front shin vertical as you reach both hands to the ground on the inside of the front knee.  You’ll feel it stretch your hips, thighs and chest as you repeat it on both side.

yoga posesLegs on the Wall
You get a little help on this one.  Raising your legs vertically above your head while keeping your sit bones in contact with the ground might be the perfect pose.  It has health benefits as well as stretching ones.  It doesn’t matter how close you are to the wall in the beginning.  Tighter runners will need to be further away to keep their lower back supported.  You’ll move closer and your flexibility increases.

Add these yoga poses to your pre- and post-run routines to prevent soreness, relax and improve mobility.

Coach Meredith

Understanding Your Injury Matters

Injuries happen all the time.  Athletes of all levels and even those who aren’t athletes can experience an injury.  Recovery can be as simple as a little ice or heat and elevation.  It can also understanding your injurybe as complicated as surgery and take months.  The key to recovering is understanding your injury and preventing it from happening again.

Were you tackled in a football game?  That’s easy to source.  Do you have daily low back pain and discomfort?  Maybe your hamstrings are tight, maybe it’s something else.  Are you having knee pain because you’re heel striking while you run?  Are your knees falling in when you squat under weight?  Lots of day to day and chronic injuries are not so easy to pin down but discovering what caused the problem is the best possible thing you can do to move forward.

Unfortunately just taking time off until your injured body feels better isn’t the answer.  Without understanding your injury you’re likely to go out and sooner or later go through the same thing again.  So understanding your injurywhat’s the solution?  Treat the problem (poor mobility, bad form), not the symptom (pain, strained muscle).  Ask yourself these questions when you get hurt to get to the bottom of what went wrong:

What was I doing?
Are my movement patterns correct?
Do I have adequate mobility to perform these movements safely?
Am I using the correct equipment?
Do I take care of my body before and after a workout properly?
Am I over training?

If you can’t answer these questions or answer them satisfactorily, get help from a trainer, doctor or teacher who will guide you in the right direction.  Stripping your activity down to the bare minimum will highlight the root of what caused your injury and help you avoid it in the future.

Coach Meredith