• Joanne Cogle

Stay strong this Fall

Are you in your off-season? Or maybe you just want to get stronger, change up your routine, or learn something new. Spending the off season doing something different is beneficial in many ways. It provides the body a break from same repetitive movements and the mind from the same routes or routines.

Building strength can help prevent future injuries in the next season. When we talk about the muscles in our body we often reference only the major movers -quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, etc. These muscles are major players in propelling the body. If they remain healthy, strong and in the proper strength ratio to each other, they allow us to participate in activities we enjoy. However, it’s important that we don’t neglect the smaller supporting muscles.

For those lower body focused athletes (think activities that involve running, jumping, or cycling) these 5 movements focus on the lower quadrant/posterior chain and core muscles (fancy terms for lower body and abs) and are a great place to start.

1. The Single Leg Squat, also known as a pistol squat. This movement not only targets the quadriceps and gluteus maximus but also the gluteus minimus and balance. Stand on one leg (hold onto a chair if needed), contract the core muscles, push your hips back like you are going to sit down in a chair. Keeping your chest up, squat down as low as possible and then return to a standing position. Repeat switching legs. Scaling options include squatting to a box of your desired height or holding on to a secure object like the squat rack at the gym. For newbies, this movement is best done in front of a mirror or with a coach that will be able to provide feedback.

2. Monster Walks. For about $9.99 you can purchase small strength bands on Amazon in differing strengths. Loop the desired strength around your ankles (think hobbling a horse). Start in a quarter squat with chest up and step sideways - either side to side or in one direction followed by the next. Be mindful of picking your feet up like you are stepping over a small hurdle rather than dragging your feet along the ground.

3. Five Dot Toe Taps. Pro tip here is to find a spot that your spouse won’t mind you marking the floor or use tape that’s removable. Mark the floor in the shape of the 5 you would find on a dice approximately 2 feet apart. Stand on one leg on the center one in a quarter squat. Engaging your core/abs, keeping your chest up right, and only having movement from your hip and below, slowly touch each dot in whatever pattern you desire try with your toe only and then try with only your heel making contact. Try for 25 taps on each side. Feel the burn.

4. Dead Bug, or what I like to call the dying cockroach because they should all die right!? Lay on your back, push the small of your back into the ground getting rid of any space between you and the ground. This should engage your lower abdomen. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground. Raise your hands in the air. You should look like you are on all fours upside down. Keeping the small of your back pressed into the ground slowly extend your right arm over your head and extend your left leg to become parallel with the ground (don’t let it touch!). Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm and leg. Done slowly and controlled this will activate the lower abdominals that are responsible for stabilizing the pelvis.

5. Plank. This good old fashion exercise can be be done any where and any time. Well it might not be a good idea to try it at the grocery store. This isometric core strength exercise involves holding a position similar to a push up for an extended period of time. There are several scaling options that include planking on your knees rather than the toes or extending the arms rather than from the elbow. Start with sets of 20-30 seconds and build from there. Fun fact, the world record is 8 hours and 1 min. Now that’s a work day!

Regardless of the activity strength training can play a large role in staying healthy. Incorporating these movements into your training can help build strength and prevent future injuries. Not sure where to start or want to know more? Click here to contact.

Train hard, train smart

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