Hip Extension and Mobility for Runners: Prevents IT Band Pain

The most common running ailments I hear about all tend to come from our hips. It never strikes us that way because the pain is in our IT Band, our ankles or our knees (runner’s knee).

Where does hip extension and hip rotation come in to play?

Jay Dicharry of REP Biomechanics lab says 85 percent of runners have tight hip flexors, which Olympic running coach Bobby McGee says it is the first thing we should address with running form.

In order for runners to achieve maximal extension/power (kicking the leg out behind you) of roughly 20 degrees, the hip needs to be open enough to rotate internally. Without that rotation the body begins to compensate with other muscles, leading to overuse injuries, imbalances and indeed finally our big IT Band and knee issues.

One of the most common ways this is illustrated is by looking at if your “hip drops” when running. This is a sign of weak hips and often a weak core. Get a complete stride analysis, not just your feet at the running store, to see where you might be weak. Hip issues in runners from lack of stabiltyAll right so what do we do about it??

Unfortunately runner’s believe that being injured is just part of the game, but truly it doesn’t have to be if we listen to our bodies and take just a few minutes to work on some specific areas {{cough hips}}.

Recently I posted on Instagram new moves I’ve been doing with a stability ball that have really been amazing for helping to open up my hips. A number of you asked to see what they looked like and who am I to say no!

Hip extension is often compromised due to our sit all day nature. One quick starting point is to try standing more throughout the day, include these hip flexor stretches and then start adding in just a few of these moves 3 times a week. You’ll also be amazed at how much these work your core, which again goes to improving your overall running form and power!

Exercises for runner’s knee (yup stems from hips)
Hip march exercise to help with hip stability and prevent runner's knee and IT Band pain

Hip flexor stretches from Finish Line Physical Therapy (they work with many top runners!)Hip Flexor Stretches - click for more details on how to improve hip stability and reduce IT Band pain

Glute activation - Weak hips can shut down your glutes, let’s turn them back on!
Hip stability exercises for IT band syndrome and runner’s knee 

What do you do for your hips?

Any favorite moves you’ve learned from PT that need to be shared?

PS - MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT COMING THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT WEEK. If you haven’t signed up for the RTTF newsletter you’ll be missing out on some pretty cool stuff.

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Should you workout in the morning?

At a running form clinic last night one of the questions going around was is there a best time to run? Besides the most obvious answer of “yes, whenever you can” there is a little more nuance to it. The real answer is YES…well and no. Confused yet? Let’s break it down….

Immediately I thought of Laura’s post this week with 5 reasons not to workout in the morning. All entirely valid and yet I still encourage most people to aim for a morning workout, so what gives? 7 ways a morning workout could improve your life from weightloss to mental focusPictured here @chicrunner a fellow 26 Strong Coach.

It turns out the benefits of a morning workout routine might just make Ben Franklin’s old statement “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” truer than he might have ever known!

Following are seven of the biggest benefits to implementing a daily morning workout.

BRAIN BOOST - Studies have shown that exercise can increase mental acuity for up to 10 hours post workout! Best to put this to use with an AM workout rather than wasting all that added focus on the hours we are sleeping.

APPETITE CONTROL - Morning runners often report feeling less hungry throughout the day. {Cavet first time marathon runners would entirely disagree and say they are hungry 24/7}. However, studies have tried to dissect the cause of this appetite reduction and found two answers: it’s a direct result of the workout itself or it’s a mental shift from starting the day in a healthy way and wanting to continue feeling good.

QUALITY SLEEP – It turns out that today’s morning workout might help you sleep better tonight by helping to better regulate your hormones throughout the day. Adrenaline will be highest in the morning and naturally taper off throughout the day, rather than being ignited late in the day by an evening workout.

SILENCE - It seems now we’ve become scheduled from the moment we hit the snooze button the first time to the second we fall asleep. Growing to do lists for both ourselves, our families and our jobs...it’s like a non-stop party of voices in our head all day long. Early mornings offer a bit of quiet and solitude to mentally prepare for the day. It’s absolutely my favorite way to slow down, while of course speeding up.

CONSISTENCY - AM exercisers tend to be more consistent over the long haul with their routine. And we all know that consistency is KING when it comes to results!! This is likely because as the day progresses life gets in the way or we feel too exhausted after the stress of a fully work day to hit the gym {even though it would help!}.

BETTER WORKOUTS – Working out at the same time each day actually signals your body to prepare in advance for exercise. Yes your body will start getting ready even while you sleep! That’s gotta be the coolest way to burn extra calories ever. The muscles involved in your workout will actually begin to wake up while you are sleeping, making it easier to get up and preventing injury by acting as a warm up of sorts.

DEPRESSION BLASTER – According to Web MD the endorphins generated during a workout might be one of the best ways to ward off depression and handle life stress “Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Research has shown that exercise is an effective but often underused treatment for mild to moderate depression.”

Now what so many of you are wondering…how to start a morning workout routine.How to become a morning runner

How to become a morning runner (worker outer)

Like Clockwork: Our bodies quickly adapt to new routines and will begin to automatically get sleepy and energized at the right time of day if you follow a consistent schedule. This means going to bed and rising at the same time every single day whether you have a shorter or longer workout planned. Yes, this includes weekends!

Nighty Nighty: It might be time to start using the DVR a little more if you find yourself always catching the Daily Show at 11PM and thus missing your 5AM wake up call. Make a small change, by simply moving your bed time up by 10 minutes each week. {OR take advantage of the time change this weekend!!} Over time you may find that going to bed earlier feels more natural as your hormones begin regulating.

Easy movement: Start by swinging your arms in circles, twisting a little bit side to side and taking some great big deep breathes to fill your lungs and start moving oxygen through the body. It doesn’t take something high intensity to start waking up your body pretty quickly. Next do this short dynamic warm up routine to give your muscles and brain a few more minutes to wake.

Prep like a mad man: Layout your clothes, have a quick breakfast ready to go, pack your lunch the night before, have your work clothes picked out…in other words do whatever you can to make your morning faster.

Smile, seriously: Find the workout you enjoy the most and start there. Maybe that means a cardio or spin class where you can meet friends, maybe it’s a mentally refreshing yoga class or a stress busting run.  It could take some trial and error to find the workout that fits you, but once you have it will make the earlier morning alarm far more bearable.

Further reading
It doesn’t get easier, but it isn’t that hard 
Doing less to achieve more 
Motivation is overrated 

When do you prefer to workout?

When do you actually workout?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Post-marathon: A guide to physical and mental recovery

After months of training and hours of running it seems you are finally free of following a plan and tracking all sorts of things. But smart runners know that a post race recovery is just as important to ensure you are able to come back strong, spend a little less time wobbling down stairs and don’t find yourself on the injured reserve list.

Why do we need time off after a race?

Recovery is important for both the novice and elite runner because the toll of 26.2 miles on the body is just the same regardless of finishing time. One study showed that it takes a minimum of 14 days for muscle inflammation to decrease and return to full power, while other studies have proven it can compromise the immune system for the same period of time.

Why don’t we take time off post race?

  • The race didn’t go our way and we want to try and cram another one in soon
  • We started running to lose weight and fear weeks of not running
  • We are afraid of losing all our fitness
  • We are totally addicted to the endorphins

Unfortunately without good recovery all of our initial reasons for not recovering can lead to injury and burnout. Following is a guideline to maximize recovery in the first two weeks post race.Your complete guide to post race recoveryImmediately post race: Begin refueling with whatever food your body can tolerate, but ideally a sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes, along with a high quality carbohydrate and protein. Often the easiest choice is a green smoothie, until hunger fully sets in later that day!

  • Carbohydrates - your muscles are primed to replace depleted glycogen which will speed recovery so grab that banana or head out for your celebratory pancakes
  • Water - Most of us are not able to maintain complete hydration, so start sipping and keep sipping. Don’t feel compelled to guzzle as this could lead to an upset stomach.
  • Keep moving - Try not to stop and sit right away, the slow walk through the finishers chute is good to keep the legs from freezing up.
  • Ice or Epsom salt bath - Studies go both ways on this, I prefer a nice hot epsom bath to loosen muscles, but an ice bath can be great after hot races.

One day after: Get in some movement to loosen up the muscles. Consider getting a light massage to simply encourage blood flow to the muscles which along with compression will help encourage recovery. Do not get a deep tissue massage that will only further inflame the muscles at this point.

Continue to focus on enjoying high quality anti-inflammatory foods. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any treat meals, but the more greens, veggies and quality proteins you ingest the quicker your body will repair. If you are feeling a lot of soreness consider using tumeric capsules in place of an over the counter medicine.

  • Sleep - You’ve heard it before, but sleep is one of the best recovery tools available. If you are traveling and having trouble consider taking melatonin (natural hormone).
  • Compression - I’m a HUGE fan of compression for recovery. It simply increases blood flow to the area which promotes recovery.
  • Heat or Ice - If you’re having pain use ice for swelling and heat for tightness.

Two-Three days: Keep the movement easy with some walks or restorative yoga. This time is all about slowing down, taking time to relish the culmination of months of work and continuing to treat your body well.

Even if you are beginning to feel better, resist the urge to run. Your muscles have more microscopic tears than you realize and the added rest will help ensure you don’t jump back too quickly leading to injury.

Four-Five days: Add in light cross training if desired, but this isn’t the time to head to your first CrossFit class no matter how good you might be feeling. This is also a good time to schedule a deeper massage to flush out the muscles and break up an adhesion’s.

  • Schedule a deep tissue massage
  • Walk, yoga, easy swim
  • Recap your marathon for friends at least one more time

Six-Thirteen days: Let your body be your guide to exercise, but keep the intensity low and only run if nothing hurts. All runs should be done at a very easy, relaxed pace. This is the perfect time to get back to that cross training you may have neglected like riding the bike, swimming or lifting weights (focus on upper body only for a bit).

Monday: Restorative yoga and a little walk
Tuesday: Walk and more restorative yoga
Wednesday: Walk and upper body weights/core work
Thursday: Walk and Vinyasa yoga
Friday: Walk and Pilates
Saturday: Walk and yoga
Sunday: Easy 1-2 mile run and walk

Restorative yoga poses to improve running recoveryWhat is restorative yoga? It’s usually the nemesis of runners who prefer to be moving quickly and working up a sweat. However it’s a great tool that can be used throughout training and in particular during the first week post race to help the body settle back in to alignment and release tightness without overstretch or over exerting the muscles.

Following are a few restorative poses that help to release a tight low back and de-stress the entire body:

  • Legs against Wall – Performed with bolster under your legs, hips or back.
  • Supported Child’s Pose – Sitting on knees, press backwards so you are folded over your legs with a bolster under your chest.
  • Reclining Bound Angle – Laying on your back with knees bent and feet together, then allow knees to fall out to the side.
  • Hip release – Laying on your back in corpse pose (fully relaxed all limbs straight), place a block under your hips.

Why all the walking? Complete rest post race can cause the body to feel stiff and tight. Walking is a great way to get the blood flowing and many find it reminds them to slow down and enjoy things they are often striding past while buried in their headphones.

Further reading
5 Easy recovery meal ideas
Post marathon blues recovery plan
Why science says ice baths work from Lifting Revolution
5 Ways to speed workout recovery from Marcia’s Healthy Slice
Green smoothie additions for increased recovery

How long do you take off from running after a race?

Ever had post race blues?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

No Sugars, No Grains from America’s Angriest Trainer

I’m feeling very dumb right now.

You see, I’ve heard of “America’s Angriest Trainer” for years and rather intentionally avoided anything to do with him because well…I thought he was angry. I thought this was a in your face drill sergeant kind of trainer and that’s just not for me.

Then I listened to one of my favorite podcasters {Rich Roll} talk with this guy named Vinnie Tortirich who seemed to have a lot of great info and yes a stop giving yourself excuses kind of attitude, but he certainly wasn’t an asshole…sorry just being honest that’s what I thought he’d be!

A little while back Vinnie reached out with an offer to checkout his new book Fitness Confidential: Adventures in the Weight-Loss Game and I was immediately on board.

I wanted to get behind the scenes of his 20-year career training Hollywood’s hottest, while also being an amazing endurance athlete in his own right and find out what really makes him tick, what could I learn, what could I apply to my own life…I didn’t agree with it all, but I got a lot more than expected.fitnessCUT THE B.S.
Let’s be honest at least once you’ve seen some fabulous trainer and thought either “well of course they’re fit, it’s their job” or “they must have great genetics”. 

Vinnie loves it when you show up with these little BS reasons for not hitting your goals. I’m not going to lie, I have certainly used them as reasons for not hitting my own fab ab goals and damn if reading this book didn’t slap me upside the head.

I don’t want to giveaway the stories because seriously this is a great read! You’ll find yourself in his clients and it’s like having him give you a kick in the butt to rethink what you’re doing.

I finished it within a couple days because his life has been fascinating from starting as anything but a buff kid to battling disease to breaking through the BS with clients. It’s not your normal fitness book.vinnie

The key to weight loss according to Vinnie: no sugars, no grains.
nsngSimple, clear cut and no BS.

I felt my brain immediately agree with his assessment and subsequently knew it would be nearly impossible for me to follow. Each time I’ve gone on a food strike of any kind, I start to think about it non-stop.

Don’t think about white elephants” - yeah we’ve all heard the study and it seems each time we do a “X FREE” challenge that’s part of why we end up cheating.

So while I don’t disagree that we need to cut the crap in our diets, I’m going to continue my personal focus on veggies and fruits and…my recent 6 week bout with focusing on high protein didn’t work at all, I started seeing results when I upped my carbs…so as always I think there is a process of finding what works for you.

Further Reading:
Sugar detox tips
Sugar detox emotional cravings
Confessions of a sugar free failure

Have you managed to cut sugar?

Have you listened to Vinnie’s podcast?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Scary Catcalls, liver scans and 19 miles

Well it’s probably clear from the title that today is entirely a Think Out Loud Thursday rather than anything super helpful…and I love you for still showing up to find out what’s going on!

Be prepared to read the world “seriously” multiple times as that appears to be my way of saying…WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING.

Tis the season for all things spooky, so I’m sure dark shadows and too many Criminal Minds viewings have me more cautions than normal, but still…

What do men expect to happen when they start hollering at you while you are running.

It takes a lot to scare me any more when I run. I’m aware, I’m confident and I’m always trying to make smart choices about where I run solo…but I’ll be darned if some a-hole didn’t get my attention Sunday morning.

Yelling at runnersHeading out at 5:30 it’s dark these days, but I beelined to a busy and very well lit street to kick off my long run. Within minutes a car pulled up with the driver hanging out his window hooting and hollering. Per normal, I didn’t engage…then we got to a stoplight (damnit).

Cue more catcalls, I keep running and then he slows down to continue yelling.

At that point my spidey sense is tingling and he has my full attention. Eventually I did in fact unleash a verbal smackdown and he sped off. Realizing this is a horrible idea I watched carefully to make sure he wasn’t turning down an upcoming street to let me know just what he thought.

Really..WHAT do they expect that I’ll stop, mosey over to his car and say “ohh sweet ride, thanks for yelling at me hot stuff.”
Catcalls while running19 MILES OF FUN
Which leads me to the far more exciting topic of how that 19 miler went!! For starters the plan was 18, but I felt so freaking fabulous with our finally cooler weather (upper 60’s) that I wanted to just keep going and going.

Just a month ago I couldn’t keep my HR low enough to do 12 miles all below a 10 minute pace and this weekend I was happily puttering along around 9:40 without any concerns about HR. It was a nice run to see how my fueling is going as well.
PureMagicPre-run was slice of sourdough with nut butter
During was hand full of dried fruit and Vega mix of electrolytes and pre-workout
Post-run a big fat green smoothie

All of this leads me to my last point…more dr time.

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of health and lack there of. One week I was just too pooped to do much of anything and ready to call the Dr to get a referral ASAP, the next I was flying through my runs feeling on top of the world.

This week I’m about middle of the road. Not sleeping well (highly usual), definitely low moods and a little tired but still finding my runs highly enjoyable.

Yesterday, was navigating the hospital for a full abdominal scan (seeing if liver/kidneys look ok) and tomorrow I’ll follow up with the hematologist to see if we can finally pin point the location of my crazy. I’d say it’s located somewhere between my right and left ear. CrazyFor the scan, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after around 8 the night before…

What is it about being told not to eat or drink that pretty much sends you in to a complete feeding frenzy?! Seriously after my abdominal scan, I was fully contemplating hospital food!

There you have it a little random Thursday what’s happening in my life for you!

How do you handle catcalls?

What was the last AMAZING long run you had?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin