Category Archives: Movement

The Push Up Lie Detector Test – Will You Pass?

Recently I have seen a lot of shoulder wear and tear in my practice, often directly related to the amount of push ups my clients have been doing. With today’s many Fitness Challenges going viral, one of the popular ones being +100 push ups a day for 30 days, I have also seen shoulder problems increasing.

Why is that? Shouldn’t more push ups just make you stronger? The answer is poor technique! Just because you can do a lot of repetitions does not automatically mean that you are doing it right.

Are your fingers pointed forward? Are your elbows locked out? Are your forearms staying straight at 90 degrees from the floor at all times during the movement? Is your shoulder moving forward first (not your elbow!)? Is your core braced so that your spine and upper body moves as one unit pivoting from the floor?

Did you nod your head in agreement while reading those questions? Or, are you not really sure what I mean by them?  If so, you should take good look at  your push up technique right away. Unless you did higher levels gymnastics as school, or just happened to have an amazing coach, most likely this is all new to you. That’s OK. Don’t feel bad about it – get smart instead, and learn to do it right.

Doing push ups with poor technique is like driving a car where the wheel base is off. You can still drive it, but it will always pull a bit to the side and the tires will wear out unevenly and quickly because of the uneven weight distribution. You can think of your shoulders as your upper wheelbase (your hips being the lower) and the same uneven wear and tear will happen there. However, it’s not so easy to “change out the damaged tires” in a human body.

So what’s your game plan? Are you going to blame it on the tires, or are you going to invest some time and energy making sure that your wheel base is solid? Think of it this way. A well functioning machine with good alignment might need some extra oil once in a while but it will not break down just because you increased the repetitions. If it does, something is wrong with the mechanics and you need to fix it.

Coach Carl Paoli is an excellent movement coach, whom I have tremendous respect for. I think it would be a smart move on your part to pay attention to his teachings in all things movement. Practical tip: When you are practicing this, it is a great idea to put a book, block, ball or something behind your forearm. This is to make sure that your forearm does not move backwards during the push up. If your forearm comes in contact with the object, you know it moved, and you can adjust accordingly.

 

If you are not able to do a complete push up yet, follow this push up scale video. Pay good attention and don’t worm yourself out of this one 😉

 

Ok, so you think that you already have great mechanics? Great, check yourself in the push up lie detector test by turning your hands the opposite way, having the fingers pointing toward your toes. Also, find out why doing push ups on your knees is not good for your shoulders, and why it will not lead you into a proper push up.

We all need to pay attention to good technique, especially when it comes to the basics as they lay the ground work for all other movement. When it comes to injury prevention there really is no substitute for a solid foundation with great mechanics.

Wishing you a great Push up into the weekend! 😉

 

 

 


Photo by Chris Benson and Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

This App Will Make Your Running Coach Obsolete

Last weekend I had the great pleasure to run the half marathon “halvevanhaarlem” in the Netherlands. Haarlem is situated in between Amsterdam and the ocean, and it is a very nice and laid back city. The running route was really fun, going through narrow city streets, cute neighborhoods, through the sand dunes on smaller trails, and we even ran on some gravel roads next to the canals.

The Plan and Preparation
I had never ran a half marathon before, and I knew I needed a plan to follow when I made up my mind to go for it. I decided to try the Nike+ Running app, NRC. With people like Ryan Flaherty behind the app, who is a brilliant coach and really knows what he is talking about, I wanted to see if the app could get me prepared. I went to the “coach” in the app, set the date for my half marathon, and put in the details of my running at the time. The app then set up a plan for me to follow, making sure that I did not increase the kilometers too soon. So far, so good.

Most common mistakes
Often people are so motivated, that they increase the mileage way too soon, only to get injured, and not being able to run at all. A second fault I see most people do is that they don’t change up their training with intervals, or any kind of strength training. For half marathons and beyond people typically just try to collect a lot of kilometers. This will not really make you a lot faster or stronger. It’s more of a surviving the grind kind of a thing. I think that it is neither fun nor smart training.

It is much better for the body to change things up, and do different things. The app does this very well, and I can tell you that on my own I would not have run so many different intervals as I did with this program. Sure, intervals are hard work, but it is also fun and the training sessions goes by a lot faster. And, it is really cool when you notice that your speed is improving.

The Nike+ Running Club App is also connected to the Nike+ Training Club app. I think it is a brilliant concept to put these two together, to build a more well rounded athlete. Because of this some of my scheduled training sessions were flexibility and strength training, and no running. It’s a great way to keep the fitness up, but letting the body adapt to more running step by step.

The Goal
My goal for the half marathon was to be as well prepared as I could, so that I could enjoy the day. I did not want to have to worry about injuring myself. I really think that all the interval work I did was key, because I only had 2 longer runs in the whole program at 14.5km and 16.5km. On the day of the race I felt really great and was able to enjoy the event. My goal was achieved! Two days after the event I was out with my friend playing catch with her dogs, and she said “you don’t move like someone who just ran a half marathon!” Trust me, I am no natural gazelle so I contribute that to the good programming and not increasing the kilometers to soon.

Running with the phone
Practically, I really do not like to run with my phone though. I don’t like the arm wrap from Nike, and the best solution so far that I have found is a sports bra from Lululemon that has an extra pocket for the phone on your back. If you have any other good suggestions do let me know. Instead I used my Garmin watch to get the length and time of my run, and then I just added it manually in the app. I would only run with my phone on the days where I had to do a “bench mark”  to see how I had improved. This worked well enough for me. However, I believe that you will get the most out of the app if you always use the phone.

A really good running coach is of course never obsolete. But most people are probably looking for more general guidance. As these apps are free and will help you to be smart with your training, there really is no reason not to use them. It would also be smart to work on your running technique for your long-term plan. Maybe there is a workshop somewhere close to you?

For your next running goal, whether it’s just for you getting off the sofa or taking part in a race, I would say you have two good options.
1. Get the app and follow the instructions as best as you can.
2. Find a real knowledgeable running coach who can help you.

Having a plan behind the training will make you better, less prone to injury and the training will be a lot more fun – what’s not to like?

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”
Enjoy your weekend! 😉



Full disclosure, I am not affiliated with Nike.

A great podcast “The Savant of Speed” with Ryan Flaherty and Tim Ferriss
The Savant of Speed — Ryan Flaherty

Photo by Bruno Nascimento, Tim Gouw, Autumn Goodman, William Iven, Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Help M-O keep it clean

The question just recently came up from one of my new clients. “Why do I feel so tired after a sports massage?” It was her first session of a sports/deep tissue massage in a very long time, and she was in bed by 9pm that night. If it’s your first time in a while since a sports massage this might often be the case. It will get better after a few sessions, as the body starts cleaning out the gunk that has been stored in it for so long. Gunk, what gunk?

Stored gunk
We store heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants and other toxins in the fatty tissue in our bodies. When there is an overexposure of these toxins, or the liver is under too much stress for other reasons, it cannot clear out all the toxins right away. As a protective mechanism the body then stores these toxins in the fatty tissue. This may be a good short term strategy, but with all the toxins that we are faced with everyday, we just keep accumulating toxins in our fatty tissues. The liver is under constant pressure to catch up with all the cleaning. This is on top of all the usual waste products that the liver has to clean up as well, like for instance lactic acid.

A thorough deep cleaning
As you are getting a sports massage, it’s in a way like a deep spring cleaning of your house. You will find dirt you didn’t know about and it will take some effort to get the house cleaned. Going deep into the tissues will help liberate stored toxins and waste products and get it out of storage and into the bloodstream. From there it gets transported to the liver, who can safely disassemble them and make sure the garbage leaves our body through the urine and poop.

It gets worse before it gets better
I had a client who used to smoke a lot and had recently quit, and the first couple of times she felt really nauseous after the massage. This was due to the built up of toxins from years of smoking that now were released out of the fatty tissues and into the bloodstream. As the toxins enters the bloodstream, it can make you feel worse at first, before the liver can take care of it. For the body it is like you just ingested all those toxins again.

Another client works as a painter and is constantly in contact with toxic fumes. Changing his line of work is not an option, even though from a body-toxicity exposure that would be better. Instead he has created a preventative strategy that works very well for him.  On a regular basis he goes to the sauna, gets deep tissue massage, runs a couple of times a week, stays well hydrated and takes herbal supplements to support his liver. Twice a year he does a week of detoxification as well.

“It is unrealistic to think that we can all change our work or where we live based on the amount of toxicity that we are exposed too. But, we can certainly have an influence on how well the body is prepared to deal with it all.” [2]

Being M-O
It takes a lot of work and energy for the liver to deal with all the extra cleaning that comes from the toxins that just entered the bloodstream. By getting a deeper treatment you are helping the body to start the process of self-healing through detoxification and an increased blood circulation. Therefore it is very common to feel extra tired due to the energy expended.
From my experience, the better shape your body is in all around, the less tired you will be. Feeling relaxed after a massage, which you should be, is different from being tired.
The life of your liver is very much like being M-O, and you are the one that keeps bringing in the dirt. So, take very good care of M-O. Help him out by bringing in as little dirt as possible, as he is doing his very best continuously taking care of you!

Extra tension
It is common to feel extra tension for 1-2 days in some areas of the body that felt very tight during the massage. After the very  first couple of sessions you may even feel it for a few more days, but that should subside as your body gets used to the treatment. You should not have any bruises after a sports or deep tissue massage. If that happens let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust their work with you accordingly.

Best preparation
Make sure you are hydrated before the treatment and hydrate well after. It is the quickest way to make sure that the body has enough fluids to easily transport and disassemble all of the gunk that is coming out of storage. You will help the body to recover quickly and you are making it easy for M-O (the liver) to do his job. If you are, or know that you have been exposed to a lot of toxins, it might also be a good idea to support your liver with some herbal supplements.

Take good care of M-O and have a great weekend! 😉

 


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/
[2]quote from Nathalie Visser

Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Hernan Sanchez, Pan Xiaozhen, Tim Mossholder and Matt Hoffman  on Unsplash

Constant neck compression? Let’s fix it.

As we are all using computers and phones more and more frequently and we often tend to loose sight of our posture as we do, it is important to take care of our neck. When we are in a position of our head hanging forward out in front of our shoulders, it creates a lot of tension in our neck. Over time this compresses the discs in the cervical spine (neck) which can in turn irritate different nerves in that area. This is most likely no news to you, but are you being proactive and doing something about it?

Since we lean forward with our head so much of the time, it is important to lean back in the other direction too, to even things out a bit. This takes some of the pressure off the discs that are being most compressed, and helps the fluid in the discs to re-position itself. It also helps to open up some of those tight muscles in the front of the neck and upper chest area.

In this video you will see an example that is very easy to replicate at home on your own, using your bed or sofa. You could also use a foam-roller if you prefer. If so, lay down on the floor, put the foam-roller underneath you along the length of your spine and let your head hang over the edge.

 

Below you will learn different techniques for loosening up the area in the upper chest and front of the neck that you can do yourself. A lot of the times the reason for pain in the back of the neck can be found in the front.  If I were to follow both of these videos, I would start with this one loosening up the area in the front of the neck first and then lying down on the sofa and letting my head slowly  tilt backwards.

 

I hope you will find these tips useful.
Remember, pre-hab is better than re-hab!
🙂


 

Perspective On Success through Sergei Polunin

Sometimes you come across something or someone that reaches you on a deeper level and puts life in a bit of perspective. During recent travel I came across the documentary “Dancer” with Sergei Polunin, which did that for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Sergei Polunin has been quoted to be the best male dancer of his generation, and has been linked to the very greatest of all time such as Nureyev and Barysjnikov. Being such an amazing performer and dancer does not come from nothing though, and this is the part that is so often forgotten in the search for success.  What does it really mean to be successful, and how far are you, and the people around you willing to go to make “it” happen? And when “it” does happen, was it worth the cost?

At what should have been the very height of his career, Sergei decided to say goodbye to the world of professional dancing by performing one last dance, depicting his struggle with the decision, in the video “Take Me To Church”. That video instantly went viral, and suddenly his life took on an unexpected direction.

If you get the chance check out the movie as well.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend 😉


Poster for the film Dancer staring Sergei Polunin.
© West End Films.

Holiday Driving and Swiss Army Back Problems

It is about that time of year where a lot of people are about to go on vacation, and plenty choose to go by car. Sitting in the car for many hours in a row can cause a lot of muscle stiffness and back pain. Starting your vacation moving around like an unfolded Swiss knife is not exactly how most of us envision our vacation to start, so what can we do?

I would start by taking good care of the hip-flexors, and the large surrounding muscle groups. When we are sitting still for long periods of time our hip-flexors become very stiff, and when they get too tight they won’t allow us to stand up straight very easily. Instead the muscles on the flip side of the body, the glutes and hamstrings have to work a lot harder to try and keep you in an upright position. This is a loose loose power battle between the muscles, and after a while they all get jammed up and this is where you step out of the car like an unfolded Swiss army knife and are unable to stand up straight and move freely. That situation is definitely no fun at all, so, let’s do some preventative work instead!

Make sure to target the following muscles to stay as flexible as possible in your low back and hip area. Use the lacrosse ball for 2-3 min on each. Remember, where it is the most tender and painful, that is where the most stiffness is, so that is where it would be a good idea to add on a few extra minutes.

TFL or Tensor Fascia Latae
Quads or Quadriceps femoris
Glutes, don’t forget to work on the sides of the hips as well
Hamstrings

The TFL is really key here so make sure you spend some time on both of them. Here is a video to help you get into the right position. You can also do the same move with the lacrosse ball lying down on your side on the floor, instead of standing up. I prefer only using the lacrosse ball while lying on my side on the floor, but try out what works best for you. Remember that it is a small muscle so use small deliberate movements.

Add these active mobility moves to keep the hips free:
Lateral lunges (see video below)
Couch stretch (there is a previous post about it)

If you know that you typically will have a problem in the low back and hip area after a long drive, why not get ahead of the problem and start a couple of days or at least the day before with the above mobility exercises.

Think pre-hab instead of re-hab!

On the day(s) of driving, every time you stop, make a couple of lateral lunges, and stretch your quads. It will go a long way.

Also – hydration is key for the muscles and your body to feel well. So keep drinking that water. Aim for at least 2L a day and even more if you are drinking anything with caffeine or sugar in it as it will act as a diuretic.

I wish you a smooth drive and fun adventures 😉


Yellow Fever Hits Düsseldorf – Le Tour de France

Yesterday was showcasing the big Team Presentations with all the riders, including some of the fresh National Champions sporting their special jerseys, and tomorrow Le Tour de France 2017 kicks off in Düsseldorf. If you are not too far from the area and you have never experienced the Tour de France live before, why not head on over and join in the celebration of one of the biggest sport spectacles in Europe. If you are in Luxembourg you can catch the riders passing through the country on the 3rd Stage on Monday. If you  don’t have to work on Tuesday, or maybe can get away with taking a long lunch, you can watch them start the 4th Stage in Mondorf-les-Bains.

If you want to visit Düsseldorf during this weekend, you can find some great information here. You can also visit their facebook page that has a lot of fun videos and information, and Cyclingnews is always a good place to keep up with the results. If you have never been to Düsseldorf I highly recommend it. It is a very stylish and fun city with lots of new cool design buildings in the harbor area, and the Old-town along the river is a nice place to hang out and grab a bite to eat. For more information about what’s going on check here and here.

This inspirational video was shot in Düsseldorf, starring a good friend who also used to be one of “my riders” from when I was working on the Pro-circuit, Steffen “Weigi” Weigold. Another one of “my riders” Marcel Sieberg is getting ready to start the Tour and you can see a short video with “Sibi” here.

With all this cycling inspiration and yellow fever going around, people tend to all of a sudden jump onto their bikes and ride a lot more than usual. I think it’s awesome that people are motivated and getting out there! However, I see a lot of people failing in their preparations so I want to highlight a couple of things that could be a brick in the road.

“To repeat, if your bike is not fitted correctly, everything from your position to your mechanics is compromised. In addition to not being as efficient as possible, you dramatically increase your susceptibility to injury.”[1]

Get properly fitted for your bike. It is supposed to feel good when you are out riding. Yes, tired muscles is one thing but you should not be in a compromised position slowly creating a chronic problem. Check out the below videos for some easy changes. Go to a bike store that has been around for a while and ask them to help you out. If you are into getting stuff done yourself, the book Power Speed Endurance [1] is a great source on how to do that.

And here are a couple of quick tips on proper form while riding.

Make sure that you invest in a good pair of bike shorts that fit you right. If the seams on the pad are just in the wrong place, or if the pad is too large for you the creases will quickly cause you a lot of discomfort and even saddle sores, and that, no amount of “chammy cream” can undo. Which brings me to my next point, do yourself a favor and use a good chamoise cream to put in your bike shorts and/or directly onto your crotch. It will make a big difference especially when you are increasing the length and frequency of your rides. I have always liked the Swiss Assos brand but there is plenty to choose from like for example DZ Nuts Pro created by another one of “my riders” Dave Zabriskie.

I hope today’s blog has given you some good basic information, but even more so, inspiration.
Enjoy the ride! 😉


[1] Power Speed Endurance by Brian MacKenzie & Glen Cordosa, Cycling as a skill p.140

Photo Credit to Robert Calin

By the way, real athletes don’t wear flip flops

Hey there! So last week we talked about shin splints and how to best take care of them. One very important piece of the puzzle also has to do with the shoes that you wear. But, I am not going to talk about the shoe that you are wearing while working out, but rather the shoe that you wear before and after, especially in the summer time. Wearing this shoe for many hours during the day, day after day, could have a big impact in a fairly short time frame. What am I talking about? I am talking about the flip flop.

Wait, what? The flip flop is not good for you? Isn’t it almost like a “barefoot” shoe with zero drop, isn’t that good? In terms of the flip-flop being a minimalist shoe with zero drop, I agree, that would be great for your feet. However, because there isn’t any attachment around your heel, you have to clench your toes every time you walk so that the flip flop doesn’t fall off. Because you are clenching your toes, the under side of your foot, the plantar fascia, becomes very tense and rigid. This rigidity deactivates the smooth “suspension system” in your feet that you were born with. This rigidity also translates into the rest of your legs and especially your shins, as these muscles is what helps your toes to clench down.

Sadly most of us have completely lost the flexibility and natural shock absorbing capacity of our feet over the years, due to wearing very hard, constricting shoes, high heels etc, and add to that the lack of walking barefoot on uneven ground. So, to compensate for that we keep looking for shoes with more and more cushioning thinking that it will solve the problem, when really we need to take care of our feet from the ground up, not bolstering them up like the Bubble Boy in Seinfeld!

Your feet contains 28 bones that all work together, but they also work like individual pistons constantly adapting to the ground that we walk on. It is a beautiful piece of machinery that we have tied down and constricted for so long that it now moves more like a 2 piece joint, rather than a 28 piston shock absorber. The best way to help yourself is to limit restricting or over cushioning shoes and starting to walk barefoot as much as possible.

But what about my flip flops? A couple of years ago I came across the information that wearing flip-flops any extended time is bad for your feet. As I had some problems with my shins and under my feet at the time I was intrigued, but also very sad as I loved wearing flip-flops. After having spent many years living the beach life in California, Australia and Indonesia, I had gotten used to wearing flip flops whenever possible. The one thing that probably saved me back then was being barefoot a lot and playing beach volleyball, like all of the time, which helped to even things out.

Anyway, I decided to try get rid of the traditional flip-flops, and switched to a “flip-flop sandal” by Havaianas that actually goes around the back of your heel. The effect was not instant, but I did notice a difference after about a week, and especially after using them on a city trip I noticed a huge relief compared to before, my feet just weren’t as stiff. Currently my feet and I are happy with this arrangement and have not turned back since.

I also have to say a few words on sandals like Birkenstocks. As they also do not have a heel strap, you have to clench your toes here as well, even though it might not be as obvious as with the flip-flop. And the arch support that so many people like about them, is actually what makes them so bad. Why? Because it makes our feet very lazy and we loose strength and agility. Think about it, it is for our feet as if we were walking around with crutches all the time. Yes, there is a time and a place, if you have injured yourself, where you might want to use crutches for as short time as possible. If you continue using them too long, you are going to build a dependency on the crutches and after a while you will feel uncomfortable moving without them. That is not a good habit to cultivate.

Maybe your running is not the culprit of why you are having some lower leg and foot issues. If suddenly you are wearing flip flops a lot of the time just because it’s summer, that could be what is causing or certainly adding to the problem. If you decide to start walking more barefoot and removing your flip flops, remember that with any change your body will need some time to adapt, so be gentle, think about the long run, and give yourself some time to get used to the changes. It may seem like small things, but at the end of the day it is all the little things that adds up and puts you in the situation where you are right now, so why not make small changes that will add to making the best possible version of you?

Ciao!  😉

 


Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Havaianas

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/risks-of-wearing-flip-flops

Don’t let these tiny muscles stop you.

We just had the ING night marathon here in Luxembourg and this weekend the Stockholm marathon is taking place. What do these two things have in common other than being great marathons? A lot of people will have pain along the front of the lower leg after the race. This is often a case of too much too soon, together with a non optimal running technique, and of course the more tired you get the worse your technique will be.

So maybe you have just recently been taking part in a race, or you have just upped the speed or kilometers in your training lately because the weather has been great (and who has time for a calculated steady increase then?), and now you have been feeling some pain along the front of your lower legs aka shins. The common misconception is that there is always an inflammation present when there is pain there, which is commonly called shin splints. So, most likely you will start downing the Ibuprofen to get rid of the alleged inflammation.

Before you do any of that, please do yourself a huge favor and check the muscles along the shin before jumping to any conclusions, especially m.tibialis anterior. If the muscles along the shins are tight they can cause a lot of pain there, and they can also refer pain to underneath the foot. More often than not, “shin splints” is simply a case of very, very tight muscles. It is very easy to mobilize these muscles yourself with a lacrosse ball. Check out the videos below for easy instructions on how to mobilize the muscles along the inside and outside of the shins. In the second video I do not agree about what she says about not using a lacrosse ball (she says it is too hard) as I think that it is very easy to adjust the pressure yourself. But of course, if you have different types of balls do try them out and see what works best for you.

video for mobilizing the inside of the shins

 

Sometimes the reason why these muscles are so tight could be because you are new to the sport, have new shoes, have added kilometers or intensity, or simply had a city trip where you were just walking a lot more than usual. If that is the case then doing this mobility exercise everyday for a minimum of a week, plus adding the couch stretch should more or less take care of the problem, depending of course on how severe the pain was from the beginning. If your shins are tight most likely your calves are tight also, so you might as well give them some love too. Dive into your mobility work and you will back into your running routine very quickly.

But, let’s say you went down Ibuprofen alley instead, and didn’t do any mobility work. Most likely you also stopped running which will take some of the pressure off. The Ibuprofen will make you feel as if the pain is going away, and after 10 days or so on anti-inflammatory medicine (in case you went to see the doctor) you are now cleared to go running again. Maybe the first day will be fine, but within a very short time, usually just a few runs, the pain will be back again, and you wonder why, why, WHY?

It is because you haven’t taken care of the tight muscles, which is the reason for your pain in the first place, and anti-inflammatory medication will not help you with that. You need to put some length back into these muscles so they can relax and be flexible again. I hear these kind of scenarios all the time in my practice when people are complaining about lower leg and foot pain, and people are often surprised to find out just how tight their muscles are along the shins. The second surprise is when they find out how easy it is to take care of this problem yourself with mobility work.

However, if this is a frequent area of pain for you, you should think about the long run (no pun intended) which means that you would want to look at improving your running technique. If you are putting your foot down in front of your pelvis when you run, as a typical heel striker would, you will put a tremendous amount of pressure along the shins, and further along the leg. This is really not ideal, as you also loose a lot of power this way. Think about it, did you ever go snow sledding as a kid? Well, if you did you will know that putting your feet out in front of you into the snow will slow you down. So when you are running it would be a lot more preferable to have the foot land underneath your pelvis with the forefoot instead. From this position if you just lean forward a little you have created a rolling forward motion. Find out more about this here. This technique takes a lot less energy and is also a lot easier for your body to absorb, being a spring like motion, and it also makes you faster. Win-win! In real life it (should) look something like this

Most people completely neglect their shins unless it becomes really painful. If you are a runner start thinking pre-hab instead of re-hab by moving this mobility exercise into your regular routine. That way you will instantly feel how you are doing, and can adjust right away, rather than waiting for the pain to be your motivator. Before I finish today’s writing I should also mention that there is one type of shoe, typically used in the summer time, that will wreck havoc on these muscles too, whether you are a runner or not, but more on that next week.

Be wiser and get ahead! Think pre-hab instead of re-hab 😉

Deskjockeys and athletes- take advantage of the couch!

Summer is here in Europe and I am seeing a lot more people out and about and doing sports. Awesome! This is also the time where a lot of people will decide that it is a good idea to start or restart running and cycling. With the ING night marathon in Luxembourg hitting the streets next weekend, (yes I will be there to cheer you brave guys on!), I get asked this question a lot – what stretches should I be doing?

Well, as you probably know by now, I am a real fan of mobility work because it targets the area right where you need it, and it’s very time efficient. So my first answer will be, do mobility work first. However there is one “stretch” that I find you should not do without. It is called the couch stretch, simply because it was invented on a couch, but no couch is required. This is not a static stretch though so it is important that you pay attention to the different segments and actively participate.

If you are a cyclist, runner or doing anything similar to that position, this should be on your daily to do list. If you are sitting all day at school or work this should also be on your to do list. If you are running and sitting all day I say you need to do this everyday.

Why is it so good? It gets into the whole front line (see deep and superficial lines from Anatomy Trains) of your legs, with the very important hip-flexors and rectus femoris (middle of your quads). If you can raise your arm up you will also get deeper into the hip-flexors, your abs and even lats (m.latissimus dorsi).

It is very important that you tighten the butt on the side where your leg is up on the wall, otherwise you will loose integrity of the spine, and that will keep you from working in the area that you are after. By tightening the butt and keeping your back straight, you will move your butt and back as one unit towards the wall, rather than bending just your back towards the wall.

Start in an easy position, tighten your butt and then move slowly towards the wall. After a little while release the butt muscles and move forward into a more relaxing position and then go at it again.

Remember, this position is not some high level acrobatics, even though it may feel like that for many of you. This should be easy – if you have good range of motion. If you are having trouble with this stretch it is a clear sign that you need to work on it. The very best option would be to do a few minutes of mobility work with the lacrosse ball or foam roller on your quads and hip-flexors first (and even lats), and then get into the couch stretch.

If this seems impossible for you right now, start by just sitting back on your heels for a few minutes. If even that is too uncomfortable, (contact me or someone in your area for an appointment because you need some more help), put a pillow, stack of books or a yoga block under your butt, so that you will challenge your position but not be in total agony.

Remember, if the couch stretch doesn’t count as acrobatics, sitting back on your heels comfortably counts as super easy. If it’s not, it is extremely important that you get to work on it before you do your knees and hips further or irreversible damage.

The good thing is that it often does not take as long as one thinks to improve your range of motion, so start working on it today and make a small note on where you are. Then check back in a weeks time after doing the couch stretch every day, and I am sure that you will have improved. Just try it!

One final video with a bit more description. Wishing you all a great weekend! 🙂