• Don’t Skip the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

    Caitlin / April 14, 2020
  • Pelvic Proprioception: It’s All In The Hips!

    Caitlin / July 9, 2020
  • Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

    Caitlin / July 15, 2020
  • When Your Race Is Cancelled

    Caitlin / March 24, 2020
  • TEN THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE RUNNING BOLDERBOULDER

    By Jessica / April 12, 2018
  • THREE SIMPLE SELF-CARE TIPS FOR RUNNERS

    By Larry / April 12, 2018
  • Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

    Caitlin / July 15, 2020

    This is probably one of the most valuable pieces I’ve written this year. Cancelled races, lack of motivation, decreased compliance to training plans, etc. Those who take personal enjoyment in their activity of choice have been able to persevere throughout this pandemic, while those motivated solely by the finish line, finisher’s medal or the bragging rights have found themselves at a loss for what to do.

    Intrinsic motivation involves doing something because it is personally rewarding to you and brings you satisfaction. You genuinely enjoy and seek the growth of knowledge and personal development it brings you.

    Extrinsic motivation occurs when your behavior is dictated by an external factor pushing you towards a finish line (pun intended). You require a reward OUTSIDE of yourself to be motivated (training for an upcoming race, making the podium, or qualifying for a world championship, etc.).

    But this global pandemic has shaken our system, our normal way of functioning. Those of us who are extrinsically motivated have felt lost and without a sense of purpose. Some have been able to keep their motivation up with small goals, chasing KOMs, doing personal time trials, but not everyone.

    So which form of motivation is the most sustainable? In my experience, the constant high of chasing external finish lines, podiums and KOMs diminishes over time, can lead to burnout, and can actually decrease someone’s intrinsic motivation. Rewards have their uses, but intrinsic motivators hold the real power, satisfaction and longevity.

    If you’re a finish-line chaser who has been struggling with sports being cancelled, maybe take this pandemic to search for some internal factors that bring you enjoyment, motivation and personal fulfillment to your life. Find that internal drive, that biological motivation, that purpose. Learn how to reach your true potential without relying on external sources.

    How? This leads us to the three elements of intrinsic motivation and how to incorporate them into your daily lives:

    Autonomy | If people are in complete control of their experience and outcome, they are more likely to fuel their own motivation. Autonomy also allows for greater creativity and independence from outside sources. To be fully intrinsically motivated, you must be in control of what you do and when you do it. I’ve actually advised some of my athletes who were struggling with motivation to take some time off, not from exercising but from structure, to have them dictate their own schedules to do what they want, when they want.

    Mastery | The desire to improve, to attain the utmost knowledge for a subject, activity or task. Mastery will enable someone to seek their true potential. I have an athlete who is motivated to be a stronger, faster runner. Any finish line or medal is less important than the process of continuous improvement. I’ve given her space and support to aim higher to foster improvement and growth.

    Purpose | Understand WHY you do what you you do. I can’t stress this enough. It’s a known fact that humans are intrinsically motivated by the idea of fulfilling a purpose. Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning. Those who believe they are working toward something larger than themselves are often the most hard-working, productive and engaged. Find purpose in your work. Connect it to a larger cause. Volunteer, give back, meditate on compassion, help others. During a crisis, the people who cope the best are those who help others. When we’re motivated by a spirit of generosity or altruism, we benefit as much as those on the receiving end. It’s called the Helper’s High and research shows that it decreases cortisol in the body and predicts better long-term health. With all the excess stress hormones flowing through our body these days, it’s more important now more than ever to be proactive with your health.

  • Pelvic Proprioception: It’s All In The Hips!

    Caitlin / July 9, 2020

    You often hear how important it is to activate the glutes during running, but have you ever tried, simply speaking? It's not as easy as it sounds. But what if you just spend a bunch of hours in the gym doing leg presses, squats and deadlifts to make the hips stronger? Unfortunately, that doesn't translate to running as seamlessly as you think. Research shows that, without neuromuscular retraining, strengthening these muscle groups will not lead to a change in movement patterns.1 You can spend a bunch of time isolating certain muscle groups but that won't help you run any better. You need to train movement patterns, not muscles.

    Jay Dicharry, a physical therapist and author of Running Rewired makes one of my favorite analogies: "You can't make toast if your toaster isn't plugged in". Heavy squats and deadlifts won't fix the problem. It’s just like cramming more bread into the toaster that isn't plugged in. Change requires teaching the brain and body to reprogram movement patterns.

    Running gait is reflexive and habitual. Altering any motor pattern that has become habituated over many years can be difficult, especially considering a runner who runs 20 miles a week. At 1000 steps per mile, this individual can log over 1 million foot strikes per year. But the beautiful thing about the brain is its plasticity. You can modify your form, but you must work on coordinating extra input from the brain into your normal movement patterns. At first, it requires complete, conscious focus on the task. Over time, the new movement pattern can become fully rewired into the brain and reflexive. Altering a motor pattern like this takes both guidance, practice and patience to alter.1

    Pelvic Proprioception

    So this brings us to our topic of the hips and pelvic proprioception. Proprioception is our sense of the body's position and orientation in space. We use this feedback to move all the time. Activating the glutes during running gait initially requires one to be able to sense how the pelvis is moving in space. I think of the hips as both the steering wheel of the lower body and the fulcrum upon which our core is balanced. Pelvic proprioception requires both glute and core input, adequate mobility and stability.

    During running gait, the glutes are supposed to effectively fire concentrically as you extend your hip and push off the ground behind you. In an ideal world, it is reflexive and subconscious (you don’t think about it). But for most of us in our sedentary culture, we require extra input. However, it's not as easy as just 'thinking' about squeezing your glutes. And doing a bunch of single legs squats in the gym will not magically plug them in when you run.

    A runner's ability to effectively activate the posterior hip depends not only on adequate neurons going to the muscle, but also the position of the pelvis. The ability to properly extend the hip at this late stance phase of gait will determine how inhibited or accessible the glutes are. The pelvis moves in three planes of motion when we walk and run. A lot of focus these days involves minimizing pelvic movement in the frontal plane, what we think of as hip drop or pelvic drop (gluteus medius strengthening, anyone?). But we forget that pelvic rotation in the transverse plane is equally as important. A study involving robotic gait assistive devices reduced these pelvis rotations and found that stride length, step length, and gait velocity were significantly reduced while stance phase was increased2. Pelvic rotation is critical for healthy gait and improved performance.

    pelvic rotation Pelvic rotation in the transverse plane – as your knee drives out in front of you, your ipsilateral hip should follow

    So how does this work?

    Proper pelvic rotation requires adequate hip extension and hip internal rotation in this extended position. Think of the body as a dreidel spinning in place. That is essentially how your pelvis should rotate around your spine when you run and walk, back and forth around a vertical axis. If your pelvis doesn't move the way it's supposed to either due to mobility restrictions or motor control issues, your body is going to look for that movement elsewhere (i.e. the hip joints themselves, the lumbar spine, excessive arm swing, etc), which can create overuse injuries over time. A lack of mobility and motor control at the hip and pelvis will also inhibit a runner’s ability to extend the hip properly, thus diminishing the chances of firing the glutes effectively.

    Why is pelvic rotation important? By thinking about the hips moving forward with the knee and the body, you reduce any excessive vertical oscillation (up and down bouncing that takes away from the forward momentum of the body)3. Not only does it allow you to effectively use the glutes during push-off, but by rotating your hip around the vertical axis each time you drive your knee forward, you can actually gain 1-4 inches with each stride. Decreasing risk of injury and improving performance? Now that's a win-win.

    Where do I start?

    The first step? Work on retraining that motor pattern. Below is a three-step running-specific progression to work on controlling your pelvis about that transverse plane. The movements are subtle. I’m not asking you to swing your hips around uncontrollably! Start with the first exercise and when it becomes automatic and reflexive, progress to the next. When you first start these exercises, they may require a lot of cognitive focus on the task at hand. But after adequate repetition and consistency, this should become intuitive. For further guidance and education on gait mechanics and injury prevention, schedule an appointment with us today!

    Single Leg Pelvic Rotation with Knee Drive

    Start off leaning into the wall, as you drive one knee forward, rotate the pelvis to drive that same side hip bone further forward with the knee. The key is to keep that knee moving straight forward (don't let it cross over the center of the body). This slight rotation of the pelvis creates relative internal rotation and extension of the stance leg, consequently turning on the glutes. Remember to keep the core engaged as well throughout.

    Single Leg Pelvic Rotation with Triple Extension

    Start off leaning into the wall, as you drive one knee forward, rotate the pelvis to drive that same side hip bone further forward with the knee. The key is to keep that knee moving straight forward (don't let it cross over the center of the body). This slight rotation of the pelvis creates relative internal rotation and extension of the stance leg, consequently turning on the glutes. Remember to keep the core engaged as well throughout.

    Single Leg Step-Up with Resisted Pelvic Rotation

    The more advanced progression requires single leg stability and balance and core control. With a resistance band around your hips tied behind you, step up onto a box. As you drive your knee forward, your same hip bone should also point and move forward against the resistance of the band. Keep your core engaged!

    References:

    1. Davis IS, Futrell E. Gait Retraining: Altering the Fingerprint of Gait. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2016;27(1):339-355. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2015.09.002
    2. Mun KR, Guo Z, Yu H. Restriction of pelvic lateral and rotational motions alters lower limb kinematics and muscle activation pattern during over-ground walking. Med Biol Eng Comput. 2016;54(11):1621-1629. doi:10.1007/s11517-016-1450-8
    3. Saunders JB, Inman VT, Eberhart HD. The major determinants in normal and pathological gait. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1953;35-A(3):543-558.
  • Don’t Skip the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

    Caitlin / April 14, 2020

    You’ve probably been told not to, and yet you’ve probably done it countless times... skipped your warm-up or cool-down (citing lack of time as the primary reason). The warm-up and cool down are actually important parts of a workout routine. Not only do they help you get the most out of your session, but they also reduce risk of injury. When you’re already investing so much time and energy into your sport, why would you NOT want take advantage of your full performance capabilities?

    Warm-ups generally involve doing your sport but at a reduced intensity level, helping your body prepare for the activity. Physiologically speaking, it revs up your cardiovascular system by dilating blood vessels and increasing core temperature, heart rate and blood flow to muscles. At the initial onset of exercise, your heart rate abruptly increases due to a complex series of reactions from your nervous system. It requires at least a few minutes to normalize back to a steady state rate.

    Cool-downs are equally as important. An abrupt stop can cause lightheadedness, as your blood pressure and heart rate can drop rapidly. A proper warm-up and cool-down may add a few extra minutes to your workout, but it decreases the stress on your heart and muscles and can greatly reduce risk of injury and adverse reaction during exercise.

    There are various ways to warm-up and cool-down for each sport, but the principles are essentially the same. Especially for a sport that can involve more than one training session a day, it’s important to get that warm-up and cool-down in between.

    For a generally easy session, it’s recommended to spend a good 5-10 minutes warming into the activity. For higher intensity workouts, 10-15 minutes. A cool-down of 5-10 minutes is also adequate enough to let the heart rate come down while allowing blood flow to continue through the muscles. We’re sharing a few tips for a proper warm-up for both cycling and running, to help you get the most out of your sessions.

    CYCLING
    On the bike, warm-up for 10-15 minutes at 40-60% of your threshold power or effort. Feel free to throw in some short high cadence spin-ups to get the legs and heart going before any intensity in the main set. This is also a good time to incorporate drills (i.e. cadence work, single leg drills) to improve pedaling efficiency.

    RUNNING
    Because running is a weight-bearing sport, it puts a lot more stress on the body than cycling. A proper run warm-up will typically consist of mobility and muscle activation activities (see below) and 10-15 minutes of easy, aerobic running. For a speed or high intensity workout, include more dynamic form drills such as high knees, butt kicks, various types of skips and side shuffles.

    So, what’s the deal with all this talk of mobility and muscle activation? Well, if you’re like most of us, you probably spend a good chunk of your day sitting. That can equate to short muscles on the front of the hip (hip flexors) and inhibited muscles on the backside (glutes). Our glutes are huge power generators while running and are important for stability up and down the kinetic chain. When we sit, not only are they inactive, but they also have decreased blood flow to the tissues. For some, these muscles need extra attention to wake-up before going out for that run. Below are three great exercises to improve hip mobility and glute activation pre-run.

    Lunge Matrix Stretch
    This is a good, dynamic stretch to open up the hip in all planes of motion. Start off with a lunge to the front. With your arms, reach down then up, side bend right and left, and then rotate to the right and left. Repeat the same arm movements while lunging out to the side.

    lunge-matrix-stretch

    Side Steps with Band
    Keeping knees slightly bent, toes pointed forward and feet parallel, step out to the side and follow with the other foot, keeping tension in the band at all times. You’ll want to feel the muscles on the outside/back of the hip working. For one level easier, place the band just above the knees and keep those knees in line with your toes. For one step harder, place the band around your toes and work on keeping your knees in line and feet parallel.

    band-side-steps

    Standing Fire Hydrants
    This is a great two-for-one exercise, targeting glutes on the standing leg, and glutes on the moving leg. With a resistance band just above the knees, stand on one leg and bend the opposite knee. Open up that knee out to the back corner, mimicking what a dog does when he needs to go to the, well, you know. Be sure you have a soft bend in your standing leg and that your knee isn’t locked out.

    standing-fire-hydrants

  • When Your Race Is Cancelled

    Caitlin / March 24, 2020

    So your race has been cancelled or postponed... welcome to the club! A lot of us are in the same boat. With the current pandemic, it can feel like we’re in limbo, unsure of what next steps to take. With gyms and pools closed, some are taking advantage of this ‘timeout’ to have fun with training or to set personal goals. But others are really feeling the lack of motivation setting in. So what should you be doing right now when you don’t have a race goal in sight? Here are a few tips to keep you both healthy and motivated during this time.

    1. Avoid excessively high volume and intensity to keep your immune system strong. We all know that the physical stress of a grueling training session or race can weaken our immune system temporarily. Now is not the time to make your body vulnerable by beating it to the ground.

    2. GET OUTSIDE. You may have a shelter-in-place order in your town, but getting outside for a hike or to exercise, and getting fresh air and Vitamin D are crucial for both your physical and mental well-being.

    3. Let those nagging injuries heal! If you didn’t address your weaknesses or imbalances over the winter, now is the time is take a step back and get 100% healthy and strong, without the pressure of races creeping up on us. Check in with your physical therapist on how she or he can help!

    4. Revert to more pre-season type training. Temporarily back off from doing peak-season, race-specific workouts, even if you initially had a spring race on your schedule. Save the race-specific training for this summer, when racing picks back up.

    5. Use this time to do things you wouldn’t normally do, like going for a technical trail run or challenging yourself on a Strava segment. Give your body a new stimulus that it may not be familiar with.

    6. Create small, personal goals for yourself over the next few months, like setting a 1 min or 5 min power PR on the bike, or doing a 1-mile time trial on the run.

    7. Build mental stamina by training solo. If you rely on training with a group to keep you motivated and accountable, use this time to train your mental game by doing hard or long workouts alone.

    8. Remember, your training doesn’t disappear when your race is cancelled. You’re still putting money in the training bank, even if you can’t see the outcomes on race day yet. Eventually things will return to normal and our routines will return to normal. The most important thing right now is the safety and well-being of our community.

  • THREE SIMPLE SELF-CARE TIPS FOR RUNNERS

    By Larry / April 12, 2018

    1) MITIGATE INFLAMMATION
    2) SLEEP
    3) PERFECT YOUR FORM

    MITIGATE INFLAMMATION
    A common mistake among athletes in-training is going too hard for too long. We get it, we’re competitive athletes who thrive on endorphins and the challenge. But here’s the thing – rest and recovery are essential parts of performance. Ignore them at your peril. A few simple actions can help aid recovery: 1) increase your water intake and maintain your electrolyte balance; 2) eat your fruits and vegetables (can you hear Mom?); 3) turmeric – use supplements and add it in your diet; 4) Cold Laser Therapy (see the blog post on this one; it’s well worth the read.
    https://buildyou.co/2018/04/02/five-faqs-about-cold-laser-treatment/

    SLEEP
    Studies have found that your central nervous system recharges in your sleep. So, if you’re sleep deprived, your balance and coordination are likely to be off. Listen to your body (and Mom, back in the day). Get to bed! Oh, one more thing – getting up at a consistent time also helps regulate your sleep cycle and improve the quality of rest.

    Now, eat your greens … and your breakfast.

    PERFECT YOUR FORM
    Chances are, no one taught you how to run when you were a kid. As children, running is/was as intuitive as our need to climb trees and eat sweets. But, we know that not all running gaits are created equal, and many of us have imbalances we are not even aware. Moreover, these imbalances can and often do hurt runners of all kinds.

    Solution – work with a pro, and get a proper diagnosis of your stride, foot strike and running gait. If you are one of the many unfortunates an issue, some good advice based on advanced biomechanical knowledge can get back on track. For what it’s worth, Jess can help a lot in this department.

  • TEN THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE RUNNING BOLDERBOULDER

    By Jessica / April 12, 2018

    1. THIS 40-YEAR OLD TRADITION ATTRACTS RUNNERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD!

    2. LAST YEAR, THERE WERE OVER 54,000 PARTICIPANTS. IT IS CLAIMED THAT ALL 54,000 PARTICIPANTS HAVE FUN.

    3. THERE IS A GUY WHO HANDS OUT BACON. FIND HIM.

    4. IT IS THE SECOND LARGEST 10K RACE IN THE USA AND THE FIFTH LARGEST ROAD RACE IN THE WORLD. YOU COULD SAY BOLDERBOULDER IS THE COOL KID IN CLASS.

    5. IT TAKES PLACE EVERY YEAR ON MEMORIAL DAY.

    6. THERE ARE SLIP-AND-SLIDES, AND—YES —YOU SHOULD PARTAKE.

    7. IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING COMPETITIVE (OR MAYBE EVEN IF YOU ARE), IT’S BEST TO WEAR A COSTUME.

    8. IT IS ESSENTIALLY ONE, LONG, HILARIOUS PARTY. KEG STANDS MAY OR MAY NOT BE INVOLVED.

    9. THERE IS A CLEAR BAG POLICY: ATTENDEES ARE PERMITTED ONE CLEAR BAG NO LARGER THAN 12 INCHES X 6 INCHES X 6 INCHES, OR A ONE-GALLON RESEALABLE CLEAR PLASTIC BAG, INTO THE STADIUM. BAGS THAT ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED INTO FOLSOM FIELD INCLUDE BACKPACKS, CAMELBACKS, LARGE PURSES, OVERSIZED TOTE BAGS, CAMERA BAGS AND BINOCULAR CASES, DIAPER BAGS, FANNY PACKS AND PRINTED PLASTIC BAGS.

    10. THERE ARE SEPARATE WAVES OF START TIMES, WHICH YOU’LL WANT TO REGISTER FOR BY CLICKING HERE.