Life happens. Setbacks occur, no matter who you are. One of the many qualities that separates grown folks from the little folk is how we deal with setbacks. Grown folks don’t let their egos prevent them from healing an injury properly, for example. Grown folks don’t keep pushing themselves until a minor injury turns into a permanent one. Grown folks have lots of different activities that they enjoy, so they don’t lose their identities if one particular activity is unavailable for a while. They cross-train, if necessary, or enjoy other aspects of life until the injury is healed.
The above video has wonderful tips for how to work with and heal tight hamstrings. Proper body mechanics, including posture, are essential. Here are some general tips for preventing injury, or re-injury:
- Incorporate a good warm up. Don’t start with a shuffle.
- Some great warm-up exercises are:
- leg swings, forward and back, balanced on one leg, add in arms if you have the balance.
- front leg swing to a rear lunge.
- Stationary lunges.
- Runner’s stretch with hands on the ground; do small circles to open up the hips.
- Downward dog position with alternating calf stretches.
- Downward dog, down to push-ups, and back.
- Planks and plank variations, to work on the core
- Incorporate whole-body strength training: squats, push-ups, lunges, burpees, core strength. In the gym, many of the machines isolate the muscles, which is unnatural for human movement. The exercises above are compound exercises that work several muscle groups together. Try for at least 2 days of strength-training per week.
- Incorporate running “pulls” into your workout, either in the warm-up or cool-down. Lift the heels up the inseam, to the crotch area, knees forward. (Think of a flamingo’s one-legged stance). The movement is halfway between “high knees” and “butt-kickers.” This works the hamstrings. Keep the ankles loose, and the back nice and tall.
Another tip I’d like to share is this: alternating between treadmill runs and outdoor runs can cause problems when you’re new to running, especially if you’re an older grown folk. On the treadmill, the hip flexors (muscles on the front of the hip) get a good workout, but the hamstrings and butt are more passive because the treadmill motion pulls the leg back without doing any work. This causes an imbalance between the muscles in the front and back of the leg.
When you run outdoors, the butt and hamstrings have to work to push you forward. So, when you run outside, after having run on the treadmill for several days or weeks, the weak hamstrings have to keep up with the strong hip flexors. This can overtax the hamstrings and cause injury.
In the beginning, it’s better to run outdoors and supplement with treadmill runs when necessary. Or, if you prefer to use the treadmill primarily, reduce the mileage and intensity when you run outdoors so you don’t hurt yourself.
The most important thing is to know what your goals are. If you’re just trying to stay fit, you can choose any exercise that you enjoy. It does not have to be running, or weight-lifting, or any other specific regime. Find something you love to do, then do it regularly.
If you need help establishing a routine or sticking to it, please feel free to contact me about setting up a life coaching or personal training session.
In the meantime, stay grown!
Peace and love,