GYM: On the run
ON THE RUN
With springtime officially upon us, people are gearing up for outdoor activities which for many includes outdoor running. The following exercises help to improve strength and ward off injury for runners.
If at any time you experience a cramping in your hamstrings, rest. Pushing through a hamstring cramp seldom ends well.
Gliding Back Lunge
Stand with one foot on a Gliding Disc, paper plate or something that will stay under the foot and slide with a neutral spine.
Open your shoulder and point your thumbs out to move the engagement into the back rather than the front. While maintaining an upright posture, drop back into your sliding leg then return to the starting point.
As you progress you will be able to go deeper, feeling a stretch in the hip flexors of your back leg and the hamstring and glutes of your front leg.
It is important to keep your hands free as touching your legs or sides will engage much of the balance required of the external core muscles.
Focus on contracting your abdominal muscles as you glide back and continue breathing.
Once again, holding your breath utilizes the diaphragm to support the spine rather than the external core muscles.
Complete three rounds of this exercise for starters. Twelve on each leg, 10 on each leg, eight on each leg.
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl
Start in a supine position with your heels resting on a Swiss ball. Bend at the knees and raise your hips as you bring the ball closer to you.
Return to the starting position without letting your hips touch the floor.
Repeat this for 10–20 repetitions.
If at any time your hamstrings start to grab or cramp, STOP. This is not something you want to push through.
This exercise can be made significantly more challenging by putting the palms of your hands together and pointing them toward the ceiling. This will take away the stability provided by the arms and require much greater core activation.
Advanced: Try this exercise with only one leg. The additional stability required will greatly increase both the difficulty and the benefit.
Swiss Ball Hip Bridge
Start in a supine position with your knees flexed and the bottoms of your feet resting on a Swiss Ball.
Raise your hips slightly off the floor and contract your gluteal muscles, working for a full extension through your hips.
Return to the starting position without your hips touching the floor. Repeat for 12–16 repetitions.
As with the Swiss Ball Hamstring Curly, this exercise can be made more challenging and beneficial by extending your hands toward the ceiling.