Dear Doc,Training takes a lot of time. I want to be stronger & more efficient, but still have time to swim, bike and run. What couple of exercises can you recommend that will give me the most bang for my buck for improving form & preventing injury?
FJ, Wilmington NC
We could fill up the entire magazine with pages answering this question, but the single best advice is glute strengthening. The glutes play a critical role in maintaining hip stability in multiple planes. I consider them an essential and often overlooked part of the core. Due to a lack of awareness and inability to activate, many people have weak glutes. You should definitely activate and strengthen your glutes this offseason!The two exercises we recommend are the single leg bridge and the running man. The bridge focuses on single leg strengthening and stability on the mat while the running man is performed in a weight bearing position specific to running. Before you start either exercise, you must know how to contract the correct muscles. Otherwise you could compensate with other muscles that are already overworked.
Single leg Bridge
1. Lay on your back, knees bent, one leg in the air
2. Pull in your lower abs and squeeze your glutes
3. Then, push your hips towards ceiling.
4. When your hips are elevated, the foot, knee and hip of the working leg should remain in a straight line. This ensures the glutes are on and active through the movement.
5. If you feel this in your back, hamstrings, calfs or quadriceps you may be compensating incorrectly. In that case, perform the movement with both feet on the floor and progress to the single-leg version once you can really isolate the glutes.
6. Start with 3 sets of 8 reps for each leg and build to 3 sets of 20.
|Feel the burn!|
1. Begin with your right foot forward and your left foot back. Your left toes should be in line with the right heel.
2. Squeeze glutes and pull in abs
3. Bring the left knee up 45 degrees, just like you would when you run, and return.
4. When your knee is elevated, the foot, knee and hip of the opposite (working) leg should remain in a straight line. This ensures the glutes are on and active through the movement. If possible, perform the exercise in front of a mirror.
5. Start with 3 sets of 8 reps for each leg and build to 3 sets of 20.
Shefali Christopher PT, DPT, SCS, LAT, ATC works for Proaxis Therapy at Southpoint and Carrboro. She is an endurance athlete and ironman finisher who recently dressed up like a pirate for Halloween to illustrate her love for booty. In her spare time, she can be found analyzing her one-year-old son’s running gait.