Shouldering-On

Morning, folks! We’re back for part 3 of our series on our YouTube channel to help folks build better shoulder health, mobility, and strength. Today we’re talking mobility. If you can’t reach behind your back and with your thumb reach the bottom edge of your opposite shoulder blade, you’ve got problems coming. If you can’t raise your arms fully overhead with your elbows straight and your thumbs pointed behind you, you’ve got work to do. We’ll show you how to solve both problems today. Enjoy!

Back at it

Morning, Folks! So it turns out that this whole building a garage gym deal takes a bit more time and effort than we had originally anticipated. We appreciate you guys who have continued to check in here on the blog, our YouTube Channel, and our social media outlets. You all are what drive this ship forward.

Towards that end, we’re back on the Restore/Thrive YouTube channel today, this time talking about how to select the best warm-up and cool-down activities if you’re trying to improve you mobility along the way. Give it a look and have a great day!

Are You Ready to Run? Part X

Kick-starting your post-run recovery.

68015_10151199176137739_1161845327_nA quick review to get everyone up to speed in our series:

The Standards

#1-Neutral Feet

#2-Flat Shoes

#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine

#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique

#5 Hip Flexion

#6 Hip Extension

#7 Ankle Range of Motion

#8 Warming Up and Cooling Down

There are a variety of methods involving ice, heat, and water that many people use religiously to treat their bodies after their runs. But what happens when you don’t have time or access to these modalities and you’re facing 8 to 10 hours of commuting and sitting at work? It’s unlikely your boss is going to sign off on that hot tub request you made. Or worse, what do you do after a morning run followed by a transcontinental airline flight to ensure you don’t feel like your legs are unfolding like an accordion when you arrive at your destination?

Enter the ninth standard for our runners and a secret weapon in the recovery game:

Compression

You’re no doubt familiar with the nearly ubiquitous use of compression shorts and shirts by athletes trying to keep their bodies warm and supported during their sporting activities. Lower extremity compression is often times forgotten or relegated to the realms of clinical use for lower extremity circulatory impairments. We’ve known for decades that compression of the feet, ankles, and lower legs allows the body to operate the circulatory and lymphatic systems more efficiently.

What we’ve found in our practice is that the same compression of the feet and lower legs is an incredibly simple and effective tool to help you bounce back faster from your runs.

Here’s the simple application process:

  1. Once you’ve finished your run, properly cooled down, cleaned up, and gotten fired up for the rest of your day, put your compression socks on.
  2. Go on about the rest of your day

That’s it. It’s a simple and cost effective standard to meet.  You can find a good pair of compression socks for $20-$30. Look for socks that provide compression at 20 mmMg for the optimum effect.

If you’re sitting for the majority of your day, the systems that deal with muscle recovery and tissue repair (your circulatory and lymphatic systems) just don’t work effectively enough on their own. Compression keeps blood and fluid from pooling in your lower legs as you sit. Better circulation equals faster recovery.

And compression socks are a lifesaver on a long plane flight. After finishing my most recent Spartan Race last fall, less than a day later I limped onto a plane from New York City to Kansas City (a 3 hour flight), compression socks on and my calves screaming at me after running up and down a mountain for four hours the day before. By the time we landed in KC I actually felt looser than when I walked on the plane in NYC. Despite only being able to get up and move around a handful of times, being intentional about my recovery made the process 10 times easier than it would have been if I had just waited for my body to try to recover from that torture I put it through on my own.

There’s mixed evidence as to whether or not wearing compression socks while you run has any performance benefits. But there’s no argument that compression after a run helps the recovery process along. Yes, the socks can look dorky. No, no one actually cares if you’re wearing them. But your body will notice the difference. Wearing them under your business casual attire will be your secret weapon to help fuel your next hard training run or race, without any extra effort on your part.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

Are You Ready To Run? Part IX

Improve your running performance in 20 minutes or less following these simple tips.

2009-ferrari-f60-f1-race-car_100192048_m

Now that you’ve got your thumb on the pulse of your hip, knee, ankle, and foot mobility and motor control, it’s time to pull back and look at some of the physical practices you may or may not be doing that directly influence the quality and quantity of your running.

A quick review of our series to date:

The Standards

#1-Neutral Feet

#2-Flat Shoes

#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine

#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique

#5 Hip Flexion

#6 Hip Extension

#7 Ankle Range of Motion

Welcome to Standard #8:

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Think for a minute-especially you folks reading this indoors protected from temperatures that drive the birds to fly south but only inspire you to buy more clothes-about how you treat your car on a cold morning.

As you get in the car, you strap yourself into your seat with the seat belt, put the key in the ignition and start the engine, look around to make sure no one or no thing is in your way, then you gently steer your car out of its parking spot and onto the road. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s unlikely you’ll be testing the acceleration or top-speed capacities of your car in the first 5 to 10 minutes of your drive. Which is a good thing because we know your car lasts longer when you don’t push it to its limits right after you start it up.

Let’s apply the same approach you take in caring for your car to your warm up before you go on your run. A solid 5-10 minute warm up is all you need to warm up your muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nervous system to ensure you perform your best during your run.

I am not going to use this post to debate the merits of static (held)  versus dynamic (movement-based) stretches. Rather, I want your warm-up to get you hot and sweaty and tuned in to move well during your run. If your warm-up isn’t getting you to that point before your run right now, you’re leaving a boatload of performance on the doorstep.

Here’s our general suggestions for warm up:

  1. Start with slow, controlled movements in place. Air Squats, forward and backward arm circles, stationary lunges, push-ups. Aim for 15-20 reps of each, really grease those joints, muscles, and movement patterns.
  2. Add some walking warm-ups. Some of our favorites for runners are Heel Walks, Toe Walks, Knee Hugs, Leg Cradles, Inverted Hamstrings, and Monster Walks. Aim for 10 reps (per-leg) of each.
  3. Prime the pump. Jump rope for 2-5 minutes is an excellent way to warm-up the muscle and joints of your lower legs and feet, knock out enough burpees to get you breathing hard, go through 2-4 minutes of our Tabata Squat protocol to flush your legs with blood flow.

Once you’re warm, get after it.

As you get to the end of your run, make sure you leave enough time for at least a 5-minute cool-down. Don’t go from full speed to stop. Your thought in mind at the end of your run should be “it’s time to start the recovery process.”

Let’s go back to the analogy bin and talk about cool-down in the context of horse racing. This passage came from the pages of Trainer Magazine, a publication focused on the training and development of racehorses:

“The aim of a cool-down period is a progressive reduction in exercise intensity allowing a gradual redistribution of blood flow, enhanced lactic acid removal from the muscles, and a reduction of body heat through convection and evaporation. If a horse is inadequately cooled after competing, any residual lactate in the system will affect performance if the horse is required to compete again within a short space of time. The application of cold water will result in heat loss by conduction from the skin to the water, thus reducing body temperature. The active cool-down will also result in an effective return to normal breathing and heart rate.”1

The cool down should be easy and simple:

  1. An easy 10-15 minutes on the rowing machine or on a bike around your neighborhood.
  2. Walking, barefoot if possible, for 5 minutes
  3. Some deep breathing practice for 2 to 5 minutes
  4. Some mobility exercises or basic body weight exercises like air squats, lunges, or arm swings.

If you think you don’t have time for warm-up or cooling-down, you’re missing the boat. Performance isn’t all about how hard you work. It is predicated on properly preparing your body to perform, then tending to it afterwards to ensure you can come back and do it again and again without breaking yourself. If you have to cut 5 minutes off of each end of your run to get in a brief warm-up and cool-down you’ll have done yourself more good in those 10 minutes of body maintenance practice than you would have in those extra 10 minutes of running.

One last note on warming up and cooling down: the length of your warm-up and cool down should match the intensity of your effort. If you’re going to run or train hard, you need longer than 5 minutes to warm-up and cool-down. 20 minutes on both ends would be a better goal to shoot for. If you’re simply going out for a LSD (Long Slow Distance) run on a fairly flat surface, you can warm-up and cool-down with 5 minute efforts on either side. Match your warm-ups and cool-downs to your level of effort and reap the rewards of your performance gains!

REFERENCES:

  1. “The importance of warm-up and cool-down in the racehorse,” Trainer Magazine, June 2008.

COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!