YouTube Update & An Item

Morning folks! It’s Tuesday and that means more YouTube goodness. Click on over to the Restore/Thrive YouTube Channel to check out a quick primer on performance enhancement through a better warm-up.

The extra item for today could be called a “Programming Update”, for lack of a better term. We’re going to be chasing down some big goals over the next 10 weeks. Primarily, opening our first neighborhood gym space. Simultaneously, we’ll be pushing out our first piece of downloadable content for folks not in the area who need some guidance fixing common physical limitations that are impeding their performance in whatever pursuits of a physical nature they’re engaged in.

If that sounds like a lot to tackle in just over two months, that’s because it is.

Which brings us to our programming update. With a few exceptions, you will experience Restore/Thrive on YouTube for the better part of the next 10 weeks. As much as we love to drop knowledge via the blog, we’re not big on putting out less than our best when it comes to content.

Our only ask is that you bear with us (and subscribe to the YouTube Channel!) while we work out these growing pains.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

YouTube Update

Five minutes to a better morning

Morning, Folks! We’ve got a new video up on the Restore/Thrive YouTube Channel. This one is for you if you have a hard time getting going in the morning, stiff shoulders, hips, or backs. Try it on and have a great day!

Are You Ready To Run? Part XIII

Crossing the finish line in our series.

The last stop on our journey to transform your body, your routines, and your running performance is here. If you’ve been hard at work to meet the following standards, by now you should have a solid hold on what your actual strengths and weaknesses are.

In cased you missed it, here are the first 11 standards we’ve discussed 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

#8 Warming Up and Cooling Down

#9 Compression

#10 No Hot Spots

#11 Hydration

#12 Jumping and Landing

Specifically, can you jump and land with good mechanics? In essence, the running motion is a series of single-leg mini squats each time your foot hits the ground. The ability to maintain good posture and alignment in this instance has direct correlation to the health of your ankles, knees, hips, and low back.

Similar to our Squatting Standard, landing from a jump should demonstrate your ability to create a stable mid-line, produce torque at the hips, and control your foot and knee position as your feet hit the ground. If your feet turn out and your knees collapse in when you land from a jump, it’s a good bet your body does the same thing when you run. And there’s no amount of tape, arch support, or pain medication that will keep you from shredding your patellar tendons and grinding your knee cartilage to dust if you run like a duck (toes out) or a pigeon (toes in). Mastering good jumping and landing mechanics takes a huge injury risk off the table and helps you develop better strength through your posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) as well as your feet and ankles.

Passing the Jumping and Landing Standard is a two part test. First, can you jump and land with both legs, maintaining good foot, knee, and spine position?

Test #1: Jumping Onto A Box

Starting Position:

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Sit back in a quarter squat position, loading your hip and hamstrings, keeping your mid-line engaged and back neutral.

Jumping

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Forcefully extended your knees and hips, pushing off the ground while your arms swing forward and upwards.

Landing

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Good landing position looks exactly like good squat position: your shins are vertical, your back is straight, and your knees are out with your feet pointing straight ahead. From another angle:

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Fault #1 (Knees collapsing inward)

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If you land like this, please stop it, while your ACL’s are still intact.

Fault #2 (Feet turned out)

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If you land like this, not only are you collapsing your arches, but once again you are creating an abnormal amount of torque in your knees that will grind those joints down at an exponential rate.

Test #2: Single Leg Jumps

Our second jumping and landing test will tell you if you’ve got good power in your lower legs and enough strength down there to control how your foot contacts the ground. Additionally, single leg jumping is the perfect antidote for weak feet and ankles, as well as a quality way to warm-up before you run.

Jump from your hips and minimize your knee bend

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Keep neutral position from head to toe

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Land on your forefoot and let your heel kiss the ground before hopping up again. Each landing should be performed with the foot straight and knee in a neutral position

Fault #1

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Arch collapses (foot turns out), valgus knee (inside of foot).

If you are struggling to meet these standards, I suggest two things. First, re-visit your squat form and begin a daily routine of squatting to ingrain good alignment for your lower body and trunk. When you can pass the Tabata squatting protocol we outlined, you should be ready to start training your jumping and landing mechanics.

Second, if you passed this standard, as mentioned above, both of these variations are great exercises to practice on a weekly basis. Maintaining good jumping and landing mechanics is a sure-fire method to help you run your best. And plugging in 30 squats and 30 single-leg jumps for each leg is an awesome way to prime the pump of your lower body muscles before you head out for your next run.


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.

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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!