Let’s treat this like free-throws and go two-for-two on this Workout Wednesday thing, shall we?
This past weekend, I ran outside for the first time in a long time and it reminded me 1) how fun black ice can be and 2) how I never make the time to warm up my legs before I run outside. And while dog walking can serve a purpose for warm-ups and cool-downs, there are better ways to prevent injury before a long run.
I mentioned in last week’s post that I’ve been doing a lot of rehab work on my IT Band. Part of this rehab has been a series of “warm-up” exercises that I do now after my cardio and before weights. It wasn’t until I was traveling for work a few months back and reading through an issue of Runner’s World that I realized that many of these exercises can (and should) be done before a run as well. Speaking of reading, it was on that day that I found this guy in the gym:
This is not what I was suggesting when I said to bring a magazine with you to the gym.
I ask for your consideration as I am going a little (ok way far) outside my comfort zone in this week’s post by showing you photos of each exercise I am suggesting you incorporate into your warm-up. And I’m doing so only because I find it hard to follow a workout without pictures to show me the movements.
I also ask for your forgiveness in the quality of the photos. Leave it to me to pick the most-crowded time at the gym to decide to do this. Special thanks to Matt for his willingness to make himself look creepy and decapitate me for the sake of a blog post.
Shall we begin?
The first task can sometimes be the most daunting as it requires finding a long aisle to do your warm up in. I go to several gyms in the city and some are better than others in terms of space. Try to find an area long enough to get at least 6-8 lunges in and you should be good to go. Otherwise you will spend your entire warm-up spinning in circles like Nancy Kerrigan before ‘the accident.’
Side note: Who’s excited for the Sochi Olympics?!
I’ve been plagued with a bad back, tight hips and thus limited flexibility most of my life. Yoga helps me a lot, but so does this warm up. Even after 3-4 miles on the treadmill, I feel a good stretch when I do these exercises. Women especially, are prone to lower-back tightness. We also tend to run in such a way that our hip flexors get tighter than the fellas. The following exercises can help open up those areas you are limited in to not only prevent injury, but help improve your workouts.
1) High knees. Alternate your steps hugging one knee in towards your chest as you walk the length of your warm up area. Flex your lifted foot to get a good stretch from your calf to your hip flexor.
2) Lateral lunges. Facing sideways, extend your right leg laterally with your knee bent. Distribute your weight from left to right as you lower down into a side lunge. Pivot on your right foot and turn around to do the other side, alternating as you go.
3) Spiderman lunges or as I call them lunges with a twist. Boy do I wish this were a cocktail and not an exercise. I am particularly bad at this one primarily for the reasons I listed above, but that’s why I continue to do it. Step your left foot forward into a traditional lunge position. Your right knee should be bent perpendicular to the floor but not touching. As you lunge, reach your elbow down towards your left ankle and twist your torso. Bonus points if you can extend your arms out and not feel like your entire back is going to spasm while doing it.
4) Frankenstein walks. Frankenstein may have been slow enough to capture these on camera but apparently I do mine with lightning speed. With your arms extended, kick alternating legs up towards your hands with your foot flexed. Bend your knee if needed to feel a deep hamstring and glute stretch.
5) Calf stretch (not pictured). Nothing crazy about this one. Start in a plank position and rest one leg on top of the other to get a stretch in your upper and lower calf muscles. For my yogis out there, I like to do a few rounds of low plank, downdog, updog and repeat.
For those of you interested in a few exercises to help you avoid IT Band injuries, grab a resistance band and follow along.
I graduated to a green band after starting with a yellow. I’m a little scared of the black belt test but am noticing a huge difference in strength already.
1) Wall sits with extensions. Thought the normal wall sit was getting easy did ya? Well put a resistance band around your legs and watch all the meat heads look at you sideways. Once your down in a wall sit, pulse your knees away from one another for 12 reps. Stand up. Sit down. Repeat three times.
2) Clam shells. Similar concept only laying down. Lay on a mat in the fetal position with the resistance band just above your knees. Keeping your feet together, open your legs Sally Struthers-style for 12 reps. Flip over and do the other leg. 3 sets of 12.
3) Lateral walks with resistance. Find that long uncrowded aisle again and place the band around your ankles. With your butt low and your knees bent, do one set of lateral walks, facing the same direction for the length.
Turn around and come back facing the other direction.
4) Monster walks. Not to be confused with Frankenstein, who was in fact a monster and did walk, keep the legs bent and the butt low and walk forward, stepping your right foot out at a 45 degree angle and then your left. Alternate for one length and then do it backwards. Try not to fall over an elliptical, a large man or your own two feet.
I don’t know about you but my legs are fatigued just thinking about this workout. A good foam roll will help with that.
Whether your injured, healthy or just looking for something new, using resistance bands can be a great alternative to your traditional workout.
I’d love to hear what works for you! Have a great workout!