A runner’s battle – weak glutes…what one runner is doing for rehab.

Last night I led our Annual General Meeting for our street’s cotenancy association. I was expecting it to be somewhat painful because, despite my living on a street with GREAT neighbours, there are those 1-2 neighbours (we all have them, right?!) who just like to complain…complain about things I have no control (or authority) over. But to my great surprise, they didn’t show up!! So we had a great meeting, full of laughs and it was over in 55 minutes!

When I got home I decided to take myself through the rehab exercises that my friend Earl got this week. Earl is a former super star runner (scholarship to college for his superior ability on the track and competing in cross-country) who then got a career, got married, had kids and THEN decided he wanted to get back into running…with the mentality of a 25 year old (he’s going to kill me when he reads this) and guess what happened? He got injured. Like we all do. He kind of rested it and kind of did some strength work and he kind of did some stretching…and then he went FULL OUT in a race 2 weeks ago and could barely walk afterwards. Many of us have been there before, right?! I’d been suggesting he go back to his physical therapist (but he’s a guy, so did he listen?) but after this last race, he made an appointment and went this past Monday and got the not-so-surprising diagnosis: weak glutes and VERY tight and irritated hip flexors – particularly the rectus femoris (middle quadricep).

UGH. Story of a runner’s life, no?  He was given some exercises and was told not to run for a few days at least and, credit to Earl, and I know how much this is killing him, he is actually resting and doing his homework from the PT religiously. I like to learn the different rehab exercises people get because when I do them, I can sometimes identify areas that I might be weak in and correct the area before it becomes a problem AND it gives me an arsenal of stretches and exercises to try when I do find myself injured. So here is what the PT gave him:

Hamstring (with towel/band) – hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times (on each leg)

Half Kneel Hip Flexor – hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times (on each leg). I like to get the extra stretch by extending my arms up above, but when your hip flexors are VERY tight or your balance isn’t quite there, keep your hands on your supporting thigh

Quad Stretch – hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times (on each leg). This is the advance move because I think for many of us, the standing 1-leg quad stretch where you pull your foot up to your butt, we just don’t feel it. That being said, be careful if you try this one and stick a pillow under your knee. But if you can get into this position…WOW, does it feel good through your quads!!

Press up – hold 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. I don’t like this one. I never have. It always feels unsafe for my lower back – you’re supposed to feel a stretch through the front of your body. I put it here because it was one Earl was given, but I won’t do it regularly myself.

Hip Abduction – side lying – 10 lifts, 3 times. NOTE: you want to have the raised leg slightly behind your body to make sure you’re targeting more the glutes and not just the abductor muscles in general.

I find this one particularly easy so if I they were part of my routine, I would add a weight to them like this:

Clamshells – 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Up until now I’ve been doing these on my back, but doing them on my side allowed me to see the difference between the two sides and that one side is weaker than the other. I will do these on my side from now on. For Earl, right now, his glutes are so weak that he can’t even use a band yet, just the weight of his leg is enough – so keep that in mind if you try them yourself.

Bridge with Abd and Add Bracing – hold for 5 seconds in bridge, repeat 10 times. I felt like the video showed it best – I have a ball in between my knees and as I lift into a bridge position and lower, I also have to be squeezing the ball to keep it in place. You lift up and hold for 5 seconds and then lower down and repeat.

I’m not in the same crisis (Earl would say I’m being dramatic right now) situation as he is at this moment, but I do struggle with ITB and tight quads and hamstrings on and off. From these exercises, the ones I think are important for me to do regularly (maybe not everyday but 2-3 times per week – more if injured or noticing I’m really weak): 

hip flexors & quad stretches
clamshells and 
bridge with the ball squeeze

I will continue to roll out my quads (see here) and ITB using the foam roller and work on my hamstrings with my therapy ball (see here).

But regardless of what I’m doing, if I’m on the ground, Abby thinks it means I want this:

This morning was a speed workout on the TM:

8 x 1.5 minutes at 5:56 min/mil (3:41min/km) on 1 minute recovery. As per usual my assessment of it: gross. But I did get to watch more Breaking Bad. 🙂

Then I did some quick core work (ab pull-ins) using the TRX . Did 3 set of 10.

Have you found exercises/stretches that have really helped you in rehab? What are they?

Have you ever tried the TRX?

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