THE MERRELL BLOG: WHAT'S NOW. WHAT'S NEXT. LET'S GET OUTSIDE.
Piers Stockwell Bareform Tips- Strength & Flexibility
Spending many hours seated at desks or in front of a TV has allowed our bodies to grow into the shape of a chair – tight hip flexors, weak gluteal muscles and no ankle flexibility. This week’s post will explain postural issues, how it affects our running stride and how to fix it. Remember, the more often you stretch in the day – ideally for 15-30secs – the quicker your muscles will grow longer.
To run with Bareform effectively it is vital we help our body get back to its original design, allowing us to run with our feet underneath us, using our body’s natural suspension system. At first it will put some stress on our calves, which are shortened slightly from wearing heeled shoes so stretching regularly is important. Bareform will help us to fix any postural issues associated with sitting down for many hours though strengthening and flexibility is helpful for the transition to Bareform.
TIGHT HIP FLEXORS: These are the muscles that attach to the upper inside of our pelvis and to the inside top of our leg bone, they are responsible for lifting our leg up in front of us. When these muscles are very tight it causes difficulty in pushing our stride out behind us which in turn shortens the part of the stride which propels us forward. It also pulls our stride out in front of us helping the inefficient and impact rendering heel strike. Try kneeling on one knee on the ground and push your pelvis forward diagonally to stretch the hip flexor muscle.
WEAK GLUTEAL MUSCLES: These muscles are responsible for stabilising the hip and driving our knee behind us. Try squatting and keeping your weight on your heels without leaning forward. If you can’t do it, it could mean these muscles are not functioning properly.
If these muscles aren’t working you are only using your quadriceps muscles when running, missing a whole muscle group which will provide you with more power and strength. To help strengthen them, lie with your neck on a Swiss ball or edge of a bed, drop your hips down then push them up towards the ceiling clenching your bottom muscles. If in doubt that the muscles are working poke a finger into the side of the glute to make sure it is solid.
ANKLE FLEXIBILITY: Our ankles are an often forgotten part of our body. We lose our ankle flexibility by walking with our feet in front of us and never have them in a position behind us to stretch. That’s a result of tight calf muscles and shortened tendons around the ankle joint. When running, it shortens our running stride unnecessarily by reducing our propulsion phase and spitting us up in the air. Stretch the ankle joint regularly in the straight arm plank position with a bent as well as a straight knee. Due to the number of tendons in the ankle, unfortunately it is a slow process.
LEG STRENGTHENING- To deal with the forces of running it is important to strengthen our leg muscles. A simple exercise is squatting. You can use a Swiss ball on the wall to help keeping your weight on your heels. If you find it hard to squat due to ankle inflexibility, put a book under your heels ensuring your knees move forward so you stay in an upright position using your gluteal muscles more effectively.
Running is a one legged sport. Standing on one leg clenching your glutes or doing one legged squats (small movements to start with) are extremely beneficial in improving leg strength for running.
More of my blog articles on Bareform can be found on: www.blog.activinstinct.com
Hopefully see you then, Piers.