As I dive into this whole 'injury prevention' thing I'm blown away. Maybe blown away isn't the right way to say it. Let's just say that in my years running I've always thought it would be 'nice' to do a strength training program, but always wanted to 'save my legs' for the long run. I was so naive. This quest has created a paradigm shift for me. While the programs I am looking at are not 'strength training' in the sense that I previously thought of it. I thought of it as big weights and leg presses until my legs were noodles. While I think there is definitely a place for that (dependent on your goals) this approach is not what I'm thinking of as I enter into my season. (Wait aren't I knee deep in marathon training?)
I'm talking about movement prep, sustainable strength training to prevent injury (CP calls it Prehab) and recovery. I will get into all of this, but went to delve into some information about your GLUTES!
Now as an endurance athlete you are thinking 'my glutes are rock solid baby!', but I'm here to tell you that they likely aren't. While your Gluteus Maximus might be all well and good those other pesky glutes (gluteus medius and minimus) are likely suffering a bit.
Yea so what?
According to Core Performance (got the book for endurance athletes and would highly recommend you do the same - check the library) "Learning how to use the glutes and the surrounding musculature in the hip cuff will be one of the best things you can do to DECREASE injury potential and improve performance." And let me just BLOW your mind right now. Hold onto your seat! I can't quote this verbatim because I've been devouring everything Jessi and CP, but somewhere along the way someone said... Adding 10 mins of movement prep (etc) to your daily workout WILL benefit you MORE than slogging 10 more minutes out on your run/bike. Basically doing the 10 minutes of movement prep gets you ready to workout, warms the muscles and helps open up joints for proper posture and movement. But if you want to do 10 extra sloppy run/bike minutes as 'warm up' instead and not gain the strength and mobility, but get those MINUTES in ... be my guest. I'll be waiting for you at the finish line of our next race... minus the injuries. Just sayin'!
The glutes should always be the primary muscles that drive lower body movement, but the body will default to the stronger muscles to accomplish this. In most of us our Quads overpower our glutes. You see a lot of people doing squats and lunges at the gym, and while these exercises strengthen the legs their main goal should be to strengthen the glutes FIRST and the legs second. (In order to do this you need to concentrate on firing the glutes - your weight should be distributed evenly on your feet - not in your heels or your forefoot.)
Here is a great video of the proper squat form.
I've always known that the glutes were a powerhouse and I've always ASSUMED that they must just do what they do, but when I did the squat the right way and really focused on what I was doing... wow. What a difference. First I did a regular old squat like I would normally do.. QUADS QUADS QUADS. Hmmm strange. Then I tried the way above and focused on my glutes. What a difference! Then I tried some lunges. Hmm same thing. I guess in the past I thought of these as leg exercises so I didn't give my glutes much thought... just figured a nice side benefit was a nice butt.
Since looking into all of this I have really been concentrating on firing my glutes in every day stuff... walking, crouching down to pick something up, getting out of a chair. Try it. You'll realize you aren't maximizing your glute potential either!
So I haven't come up w/ my final solution to all of this. I'm still just figuring it all out, but I'm starting with the Core Performance stuff (and who knows maybe this is the holy grail for me and is what I will stay with). See the videos below (care of SportSkool ) with Jessi Stensland . She talks a bit about how she was athletically when she came to this program and - well - you can see how it all worked out for her. Just watch her run form. WOW!
Recovery and Regeneration
Did you do the squat? How are your glutes? Try this stuff and report back here how it worked for you. I know Kelly of Team Trakkers has done some of the Movement Prep stuff and is enjoying it's benefits already!