Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It’s All in the Hip Flexors: Best Hip Flexor Exercises and Stretches

One of the last things anyone wants in an injury, especially in an area that primarily controls movement. The hip flexor muscle group is much longer than most people give them credit for, ranging from the bottom of the rib cage to your femur. They control leg movement. Therefore, the hip flexor muscle group should not be ignored by anyone whose focus is triathlons or running. Here are the best exercises and stretches to make sure your hip flexors are in the best shape.  

Kettle Bell Swing

For this exercise you will need a kettle bell. To get proper placement for the kettle bell do a squat. While in the squatting position place the kettle bell in-between your feet and slightly in front of you so you have to reach a little for the kettle bell. Grab the kettle bell and swing it in-between your legs, and with that momentum swing the kettle bell up in front of you while you stand up straight. Make sure you maintain proper form to not injure yourself.  Place the bell down without rounding your spine and repeat.




Low Lunges

This is a yoga pose that will help stretch out your hip flexors. Start by placing your left leg in front and sink into a lunge position, while stretching your right leg back. Your right knee and the top of your right foot should be touching the ground. Make sure your lower left leg is straight and you are not leaning forward. Keep your spine straight and focus on breathing. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and then switch legs.

High Knees

Pretty self-explanatory, but high knees are great for training your body to run with good form. Stand up straight and then raise your left leg as high as possible, place it back down and raise your right leg as high as possible. Go as fast as your can while maintaining a straight spine to help increase endurance in your hip flexors.

Hip Flexor Resistance

Tie your resistance band to an object low to the ground and sturdy, like a bench or a pole. You will need to have a loop in your resistance band that fits your foot. Place your left foot in the resistance band. Stand to the side of the object you tied the resistance band to, so your right side is next to the object and your left side is away. You may need to side step away from the object to get resistance. Lift your left leg slightly off the ground while moving it towards the left. Hold for a second and then bring your leg back down. Repeat on your left leg and then switch legs to even out your workout.  


The Frog

I find this stretch absolutely dreadful, but it does stretch out your hip flexors incredibly well so I have to suck it up. Lie on the ground with your stomach touching the floor. Place your arms in front of you in a position they are comfortable. Spread your legs and then touch the bottoms of your feet together. Your legs will look like a diamond shape. Focus on pushing your knees into the ground to feel the stretch in your hip area. Don’t worry if your feet don’t touch the ground, as long as your legs are spread and the bottoms of your feet are completely touching you should feel the stretch.

Psoas Hold

The Psoas is a muscle that is deep in your hip flexor muscle group. During your runs this is the muscle that focuses on your stride. Stand straight with your hands at your side. Slowly lift your right leg while bending your right knee. Your right thigh should be parallel to the ground and your knee should be bent 90 degrees. Hold this position and then repeat on your left leg.

Leg Holds

Lie on your back on the ground with your hands palm down and your legs in a comfortable neutral position. Slowly raise and bend your right leg and bring it to your chest. Wrap your hands around your right knee and pull your leg close to you. Then gently place your right leg down and switch sides.

Hopefully your hip flexors are in tiptop shape and stretched out. Strengthening your hip flexors will help improve your performance by increasing your stride and controlling your leg movement.


Happy Training!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Best Hamstring Exercises and Stretches

This week it’s all about showing your hamstrings some love and attention. Strong hamstrings can improve how fast you run, as well as prevent injuries from occurring in the hamstrings. As with any muscle, the stronger the muscle is, the better you preform, which doesn’t only mean strengthening, but also stretching the hamstrings to increase flexibility.

Touch your Toes

Simple but effective touching your toes, stretches your hamstrings and increases flexibility. Start by rolling your head and spine down to the floor, so the stretch is gradual and not a sudden pull on your hamstrings. If you’ve never been able to touch your toes, don’t fret, reach as far to the floor as your body will allow without pain. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then slowly roll back up.

Single Leg Deadlifts

This exercise helps strengthen your pelvic muscles, which makes you less susceptible to injuring your hamstrings. Hold a dumbbell in your right arm any weight is fine. Start in a standing position. Slowly lower your right arm with the dumbbell and as you lower your right arm raise your right leg using your hips. Your back should be straight and your left leg slightly bent. Do your best to make your back and right leg parallel to the ground. Then return to a standing position and repeat.

The Bridge

Lie down on the ground with your hands palm down at your sides. Lift your lower legs so that your feet are flat on the ground and close, but not touching, your hands. Your feet should not be far apart, but not so close that they are touching. Raise your hips up into the air, while keeping your shoulder blades on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and hold the position for 30 seconds and then slowly lower yourself back down. This exercise helps your hamstrings and glutes become stronger, which helps prevent injuries from occurring.

Toes to the Sky

This stretch is probably the most relaxing stretch for your hamstrings, but still just as effective. Find an empty wall space that can fit both of your legs comfortably. Lie down and place your feet up on the wall. Scoot yourself until there is no space between the wall and you. Your legs and back should be straight. Breathe, relax, and let the stretch work itself.


Donkey Kicks

Not only does this exercise work your hamstrings, but it also helps strengthen your core. To do this exercise, get on your hands and knees, you might want a yoga mat. Make sure that your hips are directly above your knees. Kick your left leg up and towards the sky, but make sure your left leg is bent 90 degrees. It should not be straight out or straight up. Then bring your left leg back down towards the floor, but don’t completely rest on it. Repeat this exercise until you feel comfortable and then switch legs.

Modified Tondu’s

For this exercise you’ll need a resistance band or a cable machine. Make a loop and tie the resistance band to a sturdy pole. You also need a loop for your leg to go into. Place your right leg into the loop. Slowly pull back with your right leg as if you were taking a step. Then gently come back to the starting position.

Rolling out the Hamstrings

For this you will need your handy foam roller. Sit on the ground and position your foam roller underneath your left leg, just above the knee. With your hands supporting your weight, roll the foam roller up your hamstring until you get to your glutes, and then slowly roll back down the hamstring. Repeat this roll for a few times and then switch legs. Foam rolling your hamstrings will help your hamstrings repair themselves and will make you less sore.


Hopefully these strengthening and stretching exercises aid you in preventing hamstring strains and help you improve your speed on the course. If you do think you have a strain contact your doctor and make sure not to further injure yourself.

Happy Training!


Friday, July 14, 2017

Make the Most out of your Recovery

Recovery might be the last thing you want to hear while making your training plan. Taking a day off, or decreasing your mileage can feel like you are not making any progress, but recovery days are necessary in order for your muscles to be able to perform their best. Here is our guide to help you master the recovery days in your busy training schedule.

Protein! Carbs! Protein!

Protein rebuilds your muscles while they recover. Adding protein into your recovery will help alleviate the soreness of your muscles. That’s why almost any article you read geared towards recovery will remind you that protein is your best friend for recovery. Try eating protein after your next workout. Carbohydrates help replenish the energy that your body spent during exercise. Ignoring carbs means your ignoring the energy your body needs for the rest of the day. 

Set Alarms to Snooze

Sleeping well every night is key to the recovery of your muscles. Sleep is the time your body works to repair your muscles, which means if you don’t get enough sleep your body doesn’t have enough time for essential repairs. Prioritize your sleep during your rest days to help your body replenish muscles.

Stretch

A post-workout stretch benefits your body in two ways; it helps prevent muscle soreness and increases your flexibility. Aim to stretch for 30 minutes after your workout. This will prevent stiffness in your muscles and get blood pumping through them, which speeds up your recovery process.

Massages and Foam Rollers

Arguably the best part of any recovery is when you treat your muscles to a massage. The easiest way to comb out your muscles from any knots is to grab your trusted foam roller and use it on the areas that leave you the most sore. This helps relieve muscle soreness by reducing the tension from knots that form when you workout. It also promotes blood flow to your muscles, which gets oxygen flow back into them making you less sore in the days to come. On occasion, treat yourself and your muscles to a professional massage. They will be able to target the problem areas your foam roller might not be able to completely resolve.



Wearing compression socks or sleeves during training can help you start relieving muscle soreness. Compression gear helps promote blood flow, which means more oxygen to your muscles. If you are on a recovery day you do not want to wear sleeves, but you can wear compression socks on your recovery day. Some people like to keep their compression socks on after they train and sleep with them on into their recovery day. If you find that your legs are unreasonably sore after your workout, try compression garments and see the difference.





Focus on Form

Recovery days don’t mean you halt all motion, but modify workouts to be easier while your muscles repair themselves. This is the perfect time to focus on your form and technique in every workout you do during recovery. Can’t quite get a hang of bilateral breathing in the pool? Train this technique during recovery time when setting your PR for swim laps is not your priority. Maybe cycling isn’t your strong section of the race. Try practicing positioning your body to be the most aerodynamic on the bike. Training your technique during your easier recovery workouts will pay off when you are full speed ahead and cannot dedicate as much focus on your technique.

Rest

Be careful to not overdue training in your recovery days. It’s best to listen to your body. If it needs a day off, take a day off of all workouts and relax. If you over train your efforts will not be rewarded, because your muscles will have no time to regain the nutrients they need in order to perform at their best.


Recovery days are essential to your body. Whether you take a rest day or take the workout easy, these days are necessary to help you achieve your race day goals. It’s not just the training, or the racing, but also the recovery that helps you succeed.