Contract your hip flexors in order to relax them

I always recommend a movement routine before you run~ It doesn’t matter if it’s your off-day run, track session, x-country workout, fartlek, or weight training= do a quick movement routine first!

You can incorporate many movements into a 5 to 10 minute routine (changing it up every month or so).

One of the many issues runners face is “hip flexor” problems. With too much sitting all day long [eating meals, school/work, meetings, transport, tv, reading, computer use] it can cause havoc with the hip flexors. They can “feel” tight for many reasons.

But, WHY?

You never go through a FULL range of motion with your hip flexors throughout the day, neither passively nor actively {this is unhealthy for any muscle not to be fully used on a regular basis}. If you can use your hip flexors (actually engage the muscles) this will help with the relaxation process too!

In the video is one exercise to consider. You certainly don’t have to do this one because there’s a myriad of others. I’m just suggesting moving several of your “running” muscles before you actually start running.

*Don’t overdo the exercise. If you’ve never done it, start with 2X4-5 reps. Everything involves adaptation.

2016: The year of the Calf (not cow, your calves!)

Love your calves!

If you consider yourself a runner, you actually use your calves, A LOT! Every running step you take (and actually every step you take). Since, the calves play a pivotal role in your running success and your ability to recover you actually need to take extra care of them.

More than ninety percent of running injuries come from the lower legs. What percentage of recovery do you spend on your calves/ lower legs. Stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, neuromas, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, ankle immobility, gastrocnemius or soleus pulls, etc.

But I stretch/mobilize/length my calves! Maybe, maybe not. To train effectively there does need to be corrective exercises involved in your running as to get rid of the garbage you incurred while working out…. in addition to your decisions you make day in and day out with your calves.

I don’t know what shoes you wear. Most runners I see today wear a positive heeled shoe. This means that the heel (calcaneus) is higher than the forefoot. This automatically shortens your calves without even doing a thing! I am NOT telling you to go buy minimalist shoes, I’m just saying you need to work extra hard on your calves because of the shoes you wear!
How much do you sit? Most people that sit, sit with their knees bent (chair, car, airplane, work, train, couch). Anytime your knees are bent you are shortening your calves. Period.

We, as humans, have adapted to shorter calves for numerous reasons. Just relaxing your calf and looking at it, guaranteed it’s not in a “neutral” position. You actually have to force it into neutral, which feels like dorsiflexion; but, in actual fact it’s not.

My question to you: where are you in terms of calf love? If you are not loving your calves I don’t think you realize the multitude of injuries, pain and issues that can occur just from simply not paying attention to your calves.

Here is a corrective exercise to do EVERYDAY for your calves. It’s in my “Performance Recovery from the Feet Up for Runners” online program. Seriously, do this for a month. Yes, every single day for a month. 2X 15-30 seconds morning and night. AND, everyday you run do this again; hence 3X/day.

This isn’t for everyone. Let’s face it: many people are lazy. It’s much easier to get injured, feel sorry for yourself, not do the work and take time off in order to not get the benefits of Accountability, Responsibility and better overall health. You don’t have to do the exercise I provide, I’m just putting it out there: Are you truly taking ownership of your body? It’s a heck of a lot more work…. and it is FAR more rewarding. The calf stretch I provide is the most functional, in skeletal alignment and useful for running and day to day activities.

January Challenge (and actually for the rest of 2016) Let’s all do the calf stretch e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y!

Perfect your Recovery with Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls for self-massage


        lime        ALPHA_TwinSet            therapy +

I am a Performance Recovery Specialist helping athletes achieve their best through proper recovery. As a former Canadian national team athlete, exercise physiology and sport psychology consultant to a variety of athletes and teams I know and have experienced the importance of systematic training plans, peaking for performance, correct biomechanics, injury prevention and recovery. One of the many ways I assist athletes in their health and longevity within their respective sport is by using Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls for self-massage.

Prior to being introduced to Yoga Tune Up® in November 2011 by Todd Lavictoire, I used tennis balls and/or golf balls for a decade. They were fantastic tools that helped me perform at my best… or so I thought. As soon as the YTU® balls sunk into my thoracic spine I fell in love! There’s absolutely nothing like them! NOTHING.

There have been many blogs written prior to this one in regards to YTU® balls, and I encourage you to read my awesome colleague Brooke Thomas’ brilliant article. She does a fantastic comparison of the YTU® balls compared to foam rollers and lacrosse balls. My blog gives a bit more insight for the athlete and coach.

In simplistic and straight to the point terms, what does your sport training actually do?

Training induces: 

Microtears in the muscle fibers and connective tissue

Scar tissue

↑ Inflammation

Immune function

Circulation

Yes, it can make you SIIC, sick!

The time required to repair your microtears is dependent upon frequency, intensity, duration, fitness level, stress, nutrition, sleep and overall self-care, etc.

How does an athlete recover from being SIIC? 

Rolling on YTU® balls e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.!

End of blog.

LOL! Just kidding.

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Why?

1. Health care practitioners, such as manual therapists, are the BOMB; but, as athletes we don’t have time to go see one everyday. YTU®balls provide you with an everyday massage!

2. Massage has been researched for y.e.a.r.s. It has shown over and over again that it breaks down adhesions (scar tissue), decreases inflammation and increases circulation. PERIOD.

3. The shore (the hardness) of YTU® balls are the closest shore to human muscle [balls that most cross fitters use are 3X as hard]. Yes, when you apply pressure to the YTU® balls on any part of your body, it’s like you are applying muscle to muscle. No other stress transfer medium (read Brooke’s article) on the market is like this. Human muscle likes the same hardness placed on it, not more.

4. Fighting your way through recovery is misconstruing the entire practice of recovery itself. Most cross fitters have a tendency to fight their way through the workout; so, it must apply to recovery!? Wrong. It’s the exact opposite.

Training= tearing the crap out of your body.

Recovery= recharging, repairing, and rebuilding.

As an athlete you want resilience~ getting right back at it as quickly as possible.

↑Fighting= ↓ Resilience= Taking longer to recover

5. But, I don’t “feel” as much with the YTU® balls? Your sense of feel might have NOTHING to do with the health of your muscle… and it might have EVERYTHING to do with the health of your muscle. Especially if you’ve been rolling on harder balls, your senses might be slightly warped. Until you roll in a productive way, you can’t really tell. I go through a detailed protocol with my athletes; but, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself in which to start your recovery:

Are you fully present when you roll and do you breathe in a completely relaxed manner when you roll on the YTU® balls? This approach is vastly different than dissociation and paining {pain face} your way through a so-called “release of tension” in the muscles.

6. The classic, therapy+ and alpha YTU® balls are different sizes but the same shore; so, that means they should feel the same. No. They don’t. I use each of the balls for different areas of my body and depending on many other factors. Each athlete is different with their ball size use, it’s personal! You are the only one living in your body, so with guidance and practice you decide what size works best for you on each particular area of your body.

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Recommendations for athletes

Recovery starts before the workout (I’m sure you’ve heard that before)

Pre-workout Activation: Roll on targeted areas of the body ~ 15 to 30 sec each part

During workout Proprioception: Between sets/reps/wods ~ 15 to 30 sec dependent on you

After workout Recovery: Take a minimum of 15 minutes to roll out ~ 1-2 minutes on each part

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**WEEKLY FULL-BODY ROLL**

One thing I ask ALL athletes to do is a weekly ONE-HOUR full body roll. You do not need to do it all at once. For example: Your Sunday recovery session could be 20 minutes morning, 20 minutes afternoon, and 20 minutes of rolling before going to bed.

Yes, it’s HARD.

Yes, it takes TIME.

Yes, it’s TIRING. 

It’s also a time when you connect with every single millimetre of your body. It’s important that athletes recognize their responsibility, accountability and ownership deciding to be an athlete in the first place. Being in control of your body through knowledge of your body (touch) is a fantastic way to stay on top of nociception, proprioception ~ injury prevention.

I live in Perth and travel around Australia providing workshops (a wide variety) and trainings (i.e. The Roll Model Method®: The Science of Rolling) as the only Teacher Trainer down under. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to train coaches, athletes, chiropractors, physiotherapists, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, massage therapists, occupational therapists and many other professionals since 2012.

YTU® is GLOBAL! If you are curious about it please check out www.yogatuneup.com for details in your area. Be part of your health care with self-care. Get to it! :)

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How to lengthen your hamstrings [Written for Rowperfect UK]

There are many ways in which to lengthen your hamstrings; however, this SIMPLE position is one of the best! Whether you are at home, at the beach, at the park, or wherever, why not sit down with your legs straight!

Every time you sit with your knees bent you are actually shortening your hamstrings and your calves over time. How often do you sit with your knees bent throughout the day, everyday?

Take this QUIZ  [NOT retrospectively please! In real time with a watch throughout the day and record it]

Commute time to and from work:     _____minutes
Commute time for family outings:     _____minutes
Sitting at work:     _____minutes
Sitting to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee, afterhours:_____minutes
Watching TV/movies:     _____minutes
Using the Internet or computer (not at work):     _____minutes
Other sitting time (i.e. toilet, shopping, hanging with friends):_____minutes
Appointments (dentist, doctor, haircut, etc):     _____minutes

TOTAL TIME: _____hours _____ minutes


 

30 DAY CHALLENGE [Sitting with legs straight]

Sitting with your legs straight, quads relaxed, neutral pelvis (crotch and front of pelvis in line) and ribs down (ribs in line with pelvis)

Day 1-7: 5 minutes/day

Day 8-14: 10 minutes/day

Day 16-21: 15 minutes/day

Day 22-30: 20 minutes/day

IMPORTANT: You do NOT have to do all the minutes at one time! For example: 5 minutes/day can be split up into 5 x 1 minute throughout the day. Be good to yourself! Do NOT start on the floor. Most of you will because you are competitive BUT your physiology will say otherwise. Don’t go past your own body’s limits= it will achieve absolutely nothing.

After the 30 days, if you are feeling more at home on the floor consider having your meals down there… a few times a week :)

Incorporate Sport Specific Recovery Training Sessions!

Sport Specific Recovery Training Sessions give you INCREDIBLE benefits. DO THEM!!!!!
1. Less cortisol levels
2. Decreased inflammation
3. Immune system isn’t compromised
4. Mental, physical, psychological relief
5. Able to chat and enjoy conversation with training buddies
6. Reap all the neuromuscular benefits of sport specific training
7. Learn the “feeling” of being relaxed in the body going slow, and try to emulate that into your hard sessions.

Recovery rest days are important, AND Recovery Sport Specific Training Days are vital as well!!!!