I remember back in grade school and even in college, spending alot of time doing static stretching. We would stretch alot before we would go play, and we always held the stretch for at least 20 seconds.
Fast forward to today and even the last few years. The sports i am doing may have changed a bit but more so the warmups and cool downs have as well.
I had a request to talk a bit about muscle activation exercises and maybe at ANY age they are useful but I think as you get older they are critical. Speaking for many of us that may have overactive lower back muscles, and underactive glute muscles, its really important to get your body in "touch" with what it feels like to get the proper muscles firing for sport. I would say that for running this is 100% critical to me, swimming and biking not so much bc there is a non weight bearing component and biking is easier to get your butt firing. For lack of a better way to state that.
So my lumbar muscles ( paraspinals, Quadratus Lumborum) like to extend my hip. They love to overwork. This is coming from someone who really has no back pain at all. But when running what you want extending your hip ( think push off ) are your glutes and your hamstrings. In that order. If your glutes arent working " enough " your hamstrings will overwork and we all know what that feels like. Your hamstrings have the main job of knee flexion ( think butt kick) and also assisting with hip extension. But when your prime movers and your strongest muscles are lazy ( your glutes) those hamstrings and the lower back will be happy to take over. Taking the path of least resistance is what our body is so good at, but that will lead to some issues. Even calf issues as your hamstrings are tired now and your gastroc soleus and your toe running will try to flex your knee for you. We are a big kinetic chain arent we.
So what can you do? What do i do?
GLUTES AND CORE. Say that 100x.
I like to do alot of lumbar stretching in a rounded spine posture/squat, feet under me, core engaged, knees forward.
Then i hit up some adductor activation to get the inner thigh firing to hold the femur in line since lateral quad and ITB like to pull pull pull laterally. For this i can do this on a curb outside or on a step in my house. I actually have a little wooden box that i use, its about 6 in tall and my PT's dad makes them for us. They are step overs. Cant find a pic but to engage the left adductor, step onto a step, right foot stays on the ground and you need to pull up and in to feel the muscle deep towards your groin, stepping up and over back and forth keeping your pelvis in neutral.
Then some glute side steps, all with a tucked core. lower abs. Lateral lunges yet the foot on the step or curb is stable, not moving, and your back is NOT arched or flat ( bc you dont want your lower back working, do you?) you want your lower abs/obliques on) lunging deeper you will feel your glutes engage. Do about 20 of them and switch sides. You do not need to be adding hand weights to this, think " waking up the muscles " not strength training.
Finally before a run i will do the regular dynamics you can searchonline. Knee to chest, butt kicks, karaoke, wooden solider kicks, walking lunges, all dynamic meaning you dont hold any stretch. You can also do a few strides to get the legs turning over. Its alot easier to do this in the summer than the winter when its cold and snowy out.
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