Thursday, April 19, 2012

Core Stabilization

Whether you are a runner, aerobic instructor, or you hate exercising all together, having a strong core can help decrease injuries and pain in all areas of the body. For the athlete, it can actually help peak performance, allowing for increased endurance and function. Having a stable core keeps the torso more erect, which allows the chest to remain expanded, especially during fatigue. This allows the athlete to last longer than those with a weak center. If the core is unstable, it can lead to muscle tightness in other areas of the bodies and eventually lead to injury when doing everyday activities. Something as simple as picking up a child can cause the compensatory muscles to go into spasm and results in a very painful injury to the low back. Below are some great stabilizing exercises for the core. If you have any questions or are interested in core stabilization, you can make an appointment so we can address your concerns or needs.

1. Basic Plank - Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute. Focus on form: Don't drop your hips or raise your butt.

2. Side Plank - Lie on your left side with your body in a straight line from head to toe, right foot on top of left foot, left forearm on floor for support, and right arm extended toward ceiling. Contract abs and lift hips upward; hold 10-30 seconds. Lower, rest a few seconds; then repeat on right side to complete 1 rep. Work up to 3 reps. (To make the move easier, bend your legs.)

3. One Leg Bridge - Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift up through your abs until hips are in line with knees. Extend one leg outward. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Lower the leg, keeping hips in the air, and repeat on the other side. Alternate legs for 20 repetitions (10 on each side). Rest and repeat 1 more time.

4. Twisting Crunch - Lie face up on mat, feet in air with knees bent at 90-degree angle. Place hands behind head, elbows wide. Lift shoulders off mat, rotating right shoulder toward outside of left knee as you lower knees slightly to left. Return to center, and repeat on opposite side. Continue alternating for one minute.

5. Back Extensions - Lie on your stomach. Place both hands behind the head. Draw the lower abdomen toward the spine. Squeeze the gluteus, depress and retract the shoulder blades.Keep the feet down, lift the chest off of the floor. Hold for a full contraction, then slowly return to starting position.

6. Jackknife with Ball - Start behind the exercise ball, place your midsection on the ball and roll forward until your hands reach the floor. Walk out with your hands until the ball is underneath your ankles. Have your hands just outside of shoulder width. Hold the push-up position and retain a strong core. EXHALE: Bend at the knees and pull the ball up towards your torso, bringing your knees to your chest. Keep the movement smooth and don't drop your hips or raise your lower back.
INHALE: Extend your legs back to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The People You Meet

I was at a seminar over the weekend where the presenter said the following, "Five years from now, you will be the exact same person you are today, changed only by the books you read and the people you meet."  What an incredibly true statement.  I look back over the past 5 years and am amazed at the changes I have gone through...but when it comes down to it, I'm the same person changed by the knowledge I've gained through the things I've read and the people who have inspired, influenced and driven me to make changes. 

As the time winds down to this hefty goal of running a half marathon, I've been spending a lot of time self reflecting on these longer runs.  I'm proud of myself.  I stuck with my training, learned more than I ever thought imaginable, made some great new friends, inspired some close friends and family, and proved to myself that no goal is too high if you have a plan and stick with it. 

When I cross that finish line, I anticipate a few tears.  For many people, finishing a half marathon is a physical goal they wish to check off of their list.  It's the next step in their training.  For me, it's a new life.  I never imagined how much running would change my life.  As I began this journey, I was unsure if my knees could take it.  I was unsure if my mind would let go of the fear.  The weeks passed by and slowly I gained my confidence.  I started running faster.  I started running because I loved it.  I found myself on google the other day searching for more races this summer and fall.  I started thinking about vacations we could take where there are fun races.  I started thinking about running on trails with my daughter in the future.  That's enough to get the faucets pouring.  I never truly believed I could run again.  I thought I would tough it out for the half marathon and then go back to life as usual.  Now there is a whole new life in front of me that I can't wait to share with friends and family.  To think that one day, I'll run with Lyla in her first 5k (if she decides it's something she wants to do of course!) brings the biggest smile to my face and true joy in my heart.

It really is amazing to think about how so many people have influenced and changed my life.  It's even more amazing to think of how I can help change other's lives.  At the closing of the seminar, the speaker said, "Make sure that the people you meet are happy they met you."  I honestly can't think of a better way to live. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

4 Weeks to Go...

I began this amazing journey almost 20 weeks ago.  I ran my first mile on a treadmill at the YMCA.  I remember finishing the mile and more of those.  Not sure I can do that.  I remember running my first 7 mile run about a month ago and more of those.  Not sure I can do that.  Last Saturday I ran 11 miles.  When I finished, I thought, only 2.1 more of those.  I totally got this.  I've felt an amazing calm come over me the past couple of weeks.  I feel like I can do this.  Sure, I have days when I don't want to run, but all I have to do is think of that amazing post run feeling and it gets me out of bed, then out the door.  There is absolutely nothing in the world that can compare to running on an open road at 6 am, finishing 10 miles for the very first time.  I still smile at the end of every run...because after every run that I finish, I have proved that I CAN do this.  There is no longer a voice doubting my ability to run or telling me it's going to hurt later.  Instead, there is a voice that tells me to smile and be so thankful that I have met the amazing runners that have come into my office and inspired me to do this.  I'm so excited for the half marathon.  I'm even more excited to continue this journey long after the race.  I don't foresee a marathon in my future, but I do see many, many 6 am runs ending with a smile.