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Let’s embrace our winters and show that we don’t let our climate keep us on the couch or in the car. Running is one example of a great winter sport. In this blog article I’ll give some tips with videos that can make a run more invigorating. A proper warm up is ideal, and a runner should spend twice as long warming up in the winter before a run than in other seasons. As part of the warm up I recommend 3 key stretches that are effective for preventing running injuries. I call these stretches the “Big Gun Stretches” because they are powerful and effective for the prevention and treatment of lower back, hip and knee problems.
The first “Big Gun” stretch is one for the iliotibial band in the hip, thigh and knee as seen the video below. If this large band of tissue is tight and restrictive ( which is common in runners) then the person is prone to pain on the outside of the hip and knee.
The second stretch is called a Press Up and it is seen in the video below. This exercise stretches the lower back mainly. It is mean to reduce tightness in the backwards direction (extension) of the spine. Ask yourself how many times you bend backwards in a day or a week or ever? Believe me this movement gets tighter every year unless you work at it. And decreased extension of the spine equals injury.
The third “Big Gun” stretch is the hip flexor stretch. This stretches the front of the hip and the hip flexor muscle groups.
As with most stretches perform them 5-10 times on each side for 15-30 seconds. At each repetition the movement can be slightly increased as the muscles and ligaments gradually lengthen.
Stretching as a warm up has two main effects.
- The first is to reduce tightness. When a person has a tight and restrictive muscle group it will have a negative impact on all the joints surrounding it. It causes the body to change how it moves in a negative way. The body will adapt for the tight area by altering its movement and potentially stressing another joint area causing injury. The human body is often compared to a chain where all links affect each other.
- The second is my belief that as one stretches during the warm up one is adopting positions that require effort and therefore muscle power and energy are expended to perform the stretch. That equals body heat production. When the extremities are heated up and operating at a prime temperature, injury is less likely.
Yes we have an extreme climate in Winnipeg. But with proper preparation and a mind over matter attitude we can take many of our physical activities out into the Great White North!