Tag Archives: injury prevention

Love Your Butt

FEBRUARY 30 DAY CHALLENGE: LOVE YOUR BUTT

Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

Join in! We are going to LOVE OUR BOOTIES this month with 100 GLUTE RAISES (BRIDGES) EVERY DAY FOR 30 DAYS STRAIGHT!
THAT IS 3,000 GLUTE RAISES BY THE END OF THE CHALLENGE! (Yes, that includes Saturdays and Sundays.)

Just grab a calendar and keep track of your daily raises. It only takes a few minutes to complete 100 of them. You can switch it up and do 50 single leg bridges each side some of the days –  a little harder!

Why do this??

The benefits of GLUTE BRIDGES are endless!
-better posture
-great for spine flection
-great for injury prevention
-faster running, dancing, swimming and just about everything you do!
-fighting gravity at any age
-muscle tone in the back of leg and butt leads to less cellulite
and best of all—a good strong butt just looks amazing!!

Cheers to nothing BUTT strong glutes!!

glutes

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4 Moves to Increase Your Flexibility

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

iGnite leader Amy Younkman shares 4 moves to increase your flexibility to get you on the path to increased mobility, reduced chance of injury and just plain feeling great!

1. Passive Hamstring Stretch

Pretty much all of us could use more flexible hamstrings, right? Who doesn’t want to be closer to touching their toes? This passive stretch is a safe and excellent stretch for the hamstring, best done in a doorway or on a corner where 2 walls meet.

Passive Hamstring Stretch

Passive Hamstring Stretch

  1. Lying on your back, lift one leg up the wall, while the other leg stretches out along the ground inside the doorframe.
  2. Settle the pelvis onto the ground and position the upward leg so that you feel a gentle, but not too intense stretch.
  3. Breathe and hold for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. If you are recuperating from a hamstring tear or strain or need a less intense stretch, move the body further away from the wall so that you do not feel strain in the injured hamstring.

2. Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Stretching out the front of the hip/psoas muscle is something not many of us think to do, but it is a crucial area to stretch, especially for runners. Not only does the psoas enable you to walk and run, but it also promotes good posture.

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

  1. Come into a low lunge position on your knees, with the right foot in front and both knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
  2. With hands on the hips, lift the hip points up and root the tailbone down as you draw the navel towards the spine (creating a posterior tilt). You will feel a deep stretch in the front of the left hip.
  3. Lift your left arm on the inhale, exhale and side bend over to the right.
  4. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths as you feel a deep stretch in the front and outer area of the left hip.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

3. Thoracic Spine/Chest Opening Stretch

After long days of hunching forward, sitting at desks, sitting in the car, and on and on, this stretch feels incredible — allowing you to open up your chest and counteract all of that forward bending.  Goodbye, hunchback!

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

  1. Lie back on a foam roller (a rolled up yoga mat can work as well) with the roller just below the shoulder blades.
  2. With knees bent and bottom on the ground, reach fingertips behind your head as you lengthen your neck.
  3. On the inhale, curl back over the the roller
  4. On the exhale, knit the ribs together as you curl up and draw elbows together.
  5. With each successive breath, see if you can find more ease and expansiveness as you coordinate movement with breath.
  6. Repeat 8 – 10 times.

4. Bridge Pose

The perfect pose to tie the first three stretches together!

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, heels in line with your sit bones, and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Root down through all four corners of both feet as you press your arms into the mat and lift your hips.
  3. Lengthen the back of the neck and feel a nice stretch along the sides of the neck.
  4. Firm your glutes, and stretch your knees out over your ankles, as you stretch the front of the hips while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.
  5. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths
  6. Slowly lower the hips as you gently lay the spine down, bone by bone.
  7. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

 

Photos by Catherine Sanderson

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Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

iGnite leader Amy Younkman

by Amy Younkman

In the day and age of quick fixes, constant fads and “7 minute workouts,” it can be hard to slow down and ask ourselves, Is this really what’s best for my body?   In our American culture, there seems to be an ongoing obsession with ‘new forms’ of exercise; for example, the latest, greatest form of functional fitness, performed in an efficient, short period of time, giving you the most “bang for your buck,” and relying on external sources to guide and motivate you.

While these forms of exercise are effective and do lead to a fit, strong body, they are only part of the picture if we are truly seeking a healthy lifestyle.  By relying solely on these forms of fitness, we risk creating a vicious cycle of continually striving to be faster, stronger, look younger, be more ripped, track more daily steps…etc.  We never actually “arrive”, because there’s always that next level to strive for.  And that can get exhausting!

iGnite Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

It’s important to balance these forms of exercise with what I like to call “mindfulness on the mat” so that we can continue to enjoy a variety of activities and pursuits, and most importantly, so we can prevent injuries and be more mindful of our existing ones.  When we step onto our yoga or Pilates mat, our first priority is tuning into our body and tuning out our goals, expectations, what we did yesterday, and what we need to do tomorrow.  If we pay attention, our body will tell us what it needs.  The ego is not invited onto our mat.  With time, practice, and patience we begin to notice imbalances and places we hold tension and resistance.  We learn to practice compassionate observation and tolerance for ourself so we are in a better place to extend it to others once off the mat.

Yoga and Pilates are two wonderful practices that teach mindfulness on the mat so that we can be more self-aware in our over-stimulated, consumer-driven world.  Yoga is over 5000 years old.  Pilates is nearly 100 years old.  These time-honored practices have much to teach us!

Pilates is a form of strength training with little to no impact.  It emphasizes alignment, core strength, muscular rebalancing and joint strength.  It is a very safe way to stay fit, prevent injury, and rehabilitate from injury, while increasing balance, body awareness, confidence and better posture.  While we use props during class to keep it interesting and fun, the classical Mat Pilates series is a total body workout using your own body as your guide.

Yoga has become so westernized that it’s hard to define what yoga is today.  In its truest form, yoga teaches us about ourselves and our relationship to the world.  It ignites awareness about how we respond to difficulty and ease, to consistency and change, to the way we face our universal human struggles of avoiding difficult situations (hard yoga postures, tough life issues), or the way we cling to the familiar and comfortable (postures that we can do, habits we grow accustomed to).

iGnite Power Pilates at Rollingwood Park

Power Pilates

Besides reducing stress, yoga also teaches us balance between sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) both in our yoga practice and in life.  It teaches us to balance stability with mobility, and strength with flexibility, so that we can balance setting boundaries in our relationships with creating the space we need.  Yoga teaches us to feel the poses rather than force them.  The postures are questions, not answers.  We ask ourselves, “How can I create more ease in this pose?”  which then translates off the mat to “How can I create more ease in my life?”  Yoga is not about doing the poses; it’s about undoing what gets in the way of the poses.

In a Vinyasa Yoga class, we become aware of our breath, the life force that pulsates through our body.  From there we let the breath guide us and connect us with movement.  While we get stronger and more flexible practicing weight-bearing and balancing exercises, twists, backbends, forward folds and inversions, we also become stronger and more flexible in our mind.  We tune into the subtle energy body and discover what we have always heard to be true: that the body and mind cannot act separately from one another.  Yoga is a practice because, rather that striving to accomplish something, we continually return to the bottomless well of wisdom and guidance from within.  As Judith Lasater, veteran yogi, says: “Slowing down is the same thing as waking up.”

So, as you plan your fitness program, be sure and schedule time to consistently practice “mindfulness on the mat”  through Pilates and yoga.  With regular practice, you will not only become more mindful and body-aware, you will find more ease and inner strength in your body and in your life.  Best of all, you will bring your newfound insights into everything you do, which will add to your enjoyment and keep you safe and injury-free!


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Strength Training to Better Power Your Run

strengthtraining_poweryourrun

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

Do you want to improve your sprinting/running/walking ability to get maximum gain for your effort?  Well, here’s how: build lean muscle to power your run!

And you ask… how do I do that?

1.  STRONG ABS improve posture.

crunch1

An upright stance will help you easily pick up speed!

In a study, runners who did core work for 6 weeks ran more efficiently, shaving 42 seconds off their 5K times.

2. Develop a STRONG UPPER BODY!

iGnite strength by the lake

Yes, a strong back and arms combined with a lower-body routine can quicken your pace by 5%!

3. Work on building STRONG HAMSTRINGS!

bridge pose

bridge pose

What makes running really tough? Getting hurt. Studies have shown that strengthening the muscles in the back of your legs can help prevent injury.

4. STRONG QUADRICEPS are a must!

squat to shoulder press with resistance band

When runners added squats and weighted squats to their strength workouts, they could run 21% longer and were 5% faster!
Keep moving!
~Kathleen

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11 Exercises to Keep You Injury-Free

by Molly McCauley

by Molly McCauley

We all know to take the time to add cardio movements and strength exercises into our workout routines, but do we spend enough time stretching?

Stretching — both dynamic and static — is important too! Injury is preventable, especially if you take the time in each workout to actively warm up your muscles before you start and then cool them down for the final five minutes.

Here are some of my favorite dynamic exercises to use to warm-up your body. Make sure to warm-up for a minimum of 5 minutes before beginning your workout.

  • Glute kicks
  • High knees
  • Side shuffles
  • High skips
  • Walking lunges with a twist or side reach
  • Side lunges
  • Squats

After your workout, statically stretch the muscles you worked to reduce tension and increase range of motion. Hold each stretch for at least 15-20 seconds. Take the time to stretch your upper and lower body. I recommend performing these 4 static stretches for a great full-body stretch and cool-down:

  1. Chest and shoulder stretches using a long resistance band
  2. Spinal twists
  3. Stretch each of your quads in alow lunge with your back knee on the  ground
  4. Hamstring stretches using a long resistance band

Remember to make time for stretching — and enjoy it!

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