Searching for "IT band"

Improve Your Running Stride Part I: The IT band

Image source: http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/category/children/

Are you a runner? Or, in my case, are you an inconsistent light-jogger that moves at a slightly faster pace than speed walkers?

Whatever your speed is, you probably have a stiff IT band and have tried a gazillion stretches to loosen it up. Maybe you have even tried one of those foam rollers that just hurts so good. But after all that, is your IT band still “tight?”

Probably.

Maybe you aren’t sure if your IT band is stiff. In that case, I want you to ask yourself if you have any bothersome pain while running or after running, like knee pain, hip pain, back pain, or foot pain. Your IT band may be contributing to these frustrating symptoms that affect your runs.

So how can you get that annoying band to loosen up?

First, let’s discuss what the IT band is. God is clever, and He didn’t put tissue in our bodies to hang out there. It all serves a purpose.

 Image: Netter FH. Iliotibial band friction syndrome. Image Source: http://www.netterimages.com/image/iliotibial-band-friction-syndrome.htm

Image: Netter FH. Iliotibial band friction syndrome.
Image Source: http://www.netterimages.com/image/iliotibial-band-friction-syndrome.htm

IT band stands for iliotibial band. By its name, it is a band of thick fascia that connects the ilium to the tibia. The connection to the ilium, a part of your pelvis, is by way of the tensor fascia latae muscle, aka the muscle that tenses your fascia a-lotta!

When the tensor fascia latae contracts, the IT band tenses. If this happens repeatedly (a lotta!), the IT band gets tight, or as I like to describe it, short or stiff.

So the answer to the age-old question of stiff IT bands across running circles all over the world…

Image source: http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/category/children/
Image source: http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/category/children/

If you’re a runner whose IT band is stiff, it’s because you contract your tensor fascia latae too much.

Contract a muscle too much? Is it so? Can it be possible? Yes. It is possible to contract a muscle too much if it means you are neglecting the muscle’s counterpart, therefore altering the joint’s balance. In the case of runners and IT bands, a stiff IT band usually signals that the runner does not use his/her gluteals enough. This muscle imbalance commonly leads to pain because it alters hip and knee joint mechanics.

You may think I am going to tell you to do gluteal strengthening exercises and bippity-boppity-boo, you’re healed.

videosong

I wish it were that easy. While strengthening exercises can be useful, I am going to suggest that you change the way you run.

It is incredibly difficult to change your running form, but in my next post, I will give you 3 simple clues to think about when you’re running so you use your gluteals relatively more than you use your tensor fascia latae and IT band. With these 3 tips, you will rely less on your tensor fascia latae and IT band, therefore it won’t get so stiff! And word on the street is, these tips will help you run faster…

***The content of www.kayleemay.com is for informational purposes only. The information presented is not to be taken as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are having pain, or seeking medical advice, talk to your health care provider. Do not delay in seeking treatment because of information you have read on www.kayleemay.com. Taking recommendations presented on www.kayleemay.com is solely at your own risk***

3 Things I shouldn’t have said to my husband when I was pregnant

IMG_3070

We all have those pregnancy moments when the hormones get the best of us. Our sweet husbands are usually the ones to take the heat for it.

Here are:

hormones, pregnancy, pregnant, husband,

First Trimester:

Running to the bathroom with nausea…

“You did this to me!”

1st trimester, 12 weeks

Second Trimester:

Me: Do I look pregnant, or do I look fat?

Davey: {the ever so slightest pause} You look pregnant.

Me: Great. You think I look fat.

second trimester

Third Trimester:

Staring at my belly button in the mirror…

“Now my belly button looks like yours!”

pregnant, pregnancy, husband, hormones

Don’t worry, Davey, it’ll all be over soon. Until next time.

And then there is always menopause…

Dating my husband

Lake Calhoun

Davey and I are cherishing our time together as just the two of us. In just 7 weeks we will be a family of 3! We are going on as many “dates” as we can because we have no idea what life with a baby will be like.

Last night, we scoped out the best Mexican restaurant in Minneapolis, then took a walk around Lake Calhoun. This city is a completely different city in warmer weather. It’s so vibrant, cultural, adventurous, and beautiful!

Here is Lake Calhoun at sunset:

Lake Calhoun

Lake Calhoun

Lake Calhoun

This morning we walked around the downtown Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. Davey asked on the way there why I love farmer’s markets but I hate the grocery store. I told him it’s mainly because it’s outside and there is better people watching. These also happen to be the only 2 reasons why I enjoy the zoo.

Look at these love birds:

farmers market

farmers market

You know you’re in the upper midwest when you see rhubarb every where you turn! Mmmmm….

farmers market

farmers market

It’s been a good weekend so far. :)

When I married my husband

Davey & Kaylee Wed (363 of 983)

For some reason, older women decide a young engaged girl should know “something will go wrong on the wedding day.” I heard horror stories of the DJs’ speakers being blown out, the roof of the reception venue leaking due to rain, the limo running one hour late, the priest getting in a car accident….

So I just knew something was going to go wrong on our wedding day, and I told myself to just focus on seeing Davey at the end of the aisle.

And guess what…nothing went wrong. I got to marry my husband.

The memory of our wedding day is so sweet and unforgettable. We are thankful to our photographers, Stevi and Andrew Clark of Honey and Salt, for capturing our special day exactly as we would have wanted it captured. All the photos in this post are their work. Since they did such an incredible job, I am going to try to let the pictures tell a thousand words.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

My best friends, my mom, my mother in law, my dad, and I all got ready at my parents’ home, just as I had always dreamed.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

I was so excited to show my dad his daughter as a bride. I got a little teary when he walked out the back door to see me.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

He didn’t want to touch me because he was afraid he was going to “mess me up”!

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

It was so calming and peaceful to pray the rosary with my bridesmaids and parents before the ceremony.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

My grandparent’s love story is one that Davey and I both admire so much. Davey was able to get to know my grandfather in his last 5 months of life; I am so grateful for that time. Grandpa told me before he died how much he loved Davey. Here is a picture of my grandma watching me walk down the aisle. I love making her proud.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

There is nothing like looking at everyone you love watch you walk toward the man of your dreams. I had an indescribable sense of peace, joy, and gratitude for everything I have been given.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

Before I met Davey, I had a recurring dream of walking down the aisle, then bolting before I could see my groom’s face. Weird, huh? On our wedding day, I wanted to run to Davey.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

Just before this next picture, Davey said, “You’re my wife!”

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

Our reception was in an old church that had taken out the pews. We used the sanctuary as our dining and dancing space and the choir loft as the cocktail space.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

Around 11:15pm, Davey and I left the reception. We ran under a tunnel made by the arms of all our guests. I don’t have any photos of that moment, but it’s one of the clearest in my mind. It felt like we were getting hugged by everyone we loved. I looked back at everyone right before we walked out the door, and it was as if time stood still—maybe because I wanted it to stand still— I saw everyone looking at us cheering, clapping, waving, crying, holding drinks in the air. My husband reached back for me, grabbed my hand, and we walked out the door, both sad and happy at the same time. Sad to leave our loved ones–happiest for the best life we could have imagined for ourselves.

When I was engaged to my husband

IMG_2324

Davey proposed on March 9, 2013 in a chapel of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, IN after mass. Some of my closest friends were in town from Washington DC, Atlanta, GA, Chapel Hill, NC, and Athens, GA; they were there and all surprised as well when Davey got down on one knee. It was awesome to share that moment with all of them.

IMG_2012

IMG_2003

IMG_1990
Of course, if Davey was going to marry me, he had to propose to all the girls (he knew what he was getting into):

IMG_1988

I am not the event-planner-type. I hate to-do lists. I hate decisions. I hate looking at color samples. (side note: I also hate waking up in the morning) So planning for a wedding was a little frightening at first. But Davey and I constantly reminded ourselves that we weren’t planning a wedding; we were planning for a marriage.

In that respect, being engaged was SO FUN. We loved our pre-cana retreat. We loved talking about our futures together. We loved reading Karol Wojtyla’s Love and Responsibility. We loved thinking about the Sacrament we were entering into.

With our focus on planning a marriage, wedding planning seemed easy-peasy (for the most part). A lot of decisions we just made on a limb. For example, we never met our cake-baker or did a taste testing. We never met the singer for our wedding ceremony. The first time I heard her voice was during our mass (she was from another church).

We focused on the things that were important to us. I think one of the first things we did was choose the mass readings and songs. We wanted to the ceremony to be prayerful.

After that, making sure our guests would be able to feel how grateful we were for them supporting us was a priority. We made personalized favors by writing their names on coffee mugs and firing them in the oven. It’s been so fun getting text message pictures of my friends on snow days sipping hot cocoa, coffee, and hot toddy’s. :)

Photo by Honey and Salt
Photo by Honey and Salt
Photo by Honey and Salt
Photo by Honey and Salt

We also wanted to capture the day in a beautiful way so that we could show our future generations how it all started. This involved finding a good photographer and a good videographer. Mission totally accomplished in that department. :)

And honestly, that was really all for the “important things.”

By the way, our cake turned out AWESOME. And the wedding ceremony singer–loved her.

programs

I learned a lot during the engagement period. First of all, through a lot of prayer, I learned how to surrender my life to someone else. Marriage requires selflessness, and I prayed for it in preparation. My grandma told me that if I always focus on Davey’s happiness, then I will in turn always be happy. It has not been the easiest thing in the world to dedicate my life to someone else’s happiness–but my grandma was right. I feel the most joyous when Davey is happy. I learned how to let go of what I want, and focus on what Davey wants. I am lucky enough to have a husband who tries to make me happy as well. This is something I know we both work hard on everyday.

bride, bridal shower
My bridal shower

Second, I learned that when we are not focused on our faith, the worldly things become overbearingly important. The days I found myself stressing out about the color of the bridesmaid dresses or the fact that Macy’s could not for-the-life-of-them send us the right ties that we ordered for the groomsmen…well, those were the times I was losing focus on what the wedding was representing and what marriage was about. This lesson also comes up in day to day things as well. I find myself stressing about what we should make for dinner, why my car won’t start, how we should decorate our new house, etc, etc. It’s so easy to lose focus of the “point of it all”, and admittedly I sometimes use worldly distractions if I am not doing a good job of focusing on Davey’s happiness. I am thankful to have learned how to recognize this when we were engaged.

rsvp

Lastly, I learned that love is an opportunity. To fall in love is happenstance. But to choose to love someone for the rest of his/her life is to take a risky opportunity to participate in the essence of the world’s joy. I am grateful everyday to have been blessed with the courage to take this amazing opportunity.

Photo by Honey and Salt
Photo by Honey and Salt

When I dated my husband

It’s the week of love! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to share a love story with you. Ours! I love a good love story, and ours happens to be my favorite.

IMG_0084

Davey and I both grew up in Geist, a reservoir town in an Indianapolis suburb. He lived on one side of the reservoir, and I lived on the other. The reservoir separated us into rival high schools and connected us through our community’s church.

I knew of Davey in high school because Davey is…well…how should I say it…spirited. Energetic. Funny. Basically, he makes himself known. I, on the other hand, spent most of my high school career trying NOT to be known because my hair was too frizzy, and I needed to study. So Davey never really knew me.

Seven years after high school, I had travelled the world and lived in 9 different cities for more than two months at a time. I had become resilient, adaptive, adventurous, and more confident. It dawned on me that it didn’t matter that I had frizzy hair, and I no longer needed to study because I got my degrees.

So I accepted a friend’s request to help out at the church for a youth retreat when I moved back to Indianapolis, and that’s where I met Davey, who was also helping out. Believe it or not, Davey told me he liked my hair that weekend.

IMG_1783

So we started dating and quickly realized this was something. Something life changing and exciting. We knew we were never going to be “Davey” or “Kaylee” anymore, but we would always be “Davey and Kaylee.”

IMG_1704

We went about dating in a very traditional way. We didn’t live together or stay at each other’s places. Every relationship is different and living apart while we were dating just worked for us. We are both reflective people, and the time we had apart from each other was just as important as the time we had with each other. It gave us an opportunity to reflect on who we want to be for the other person so we could be the best version of ourselves. Since we fell in love quickly, it also gave us the opportunity to slow things down and go about things rationally so we weren’t blinded by our strong feelings toward each other.

Davey spent a lot of time with my grandpa while he was in hospice
Davey spent a lot of time with my grandpa while he was in hospice

Our work shifts were opposite, so we were very creative on finding times to see each other like over lunch breaks or meeting for early morning masses. We learned how to make time for each other and how to make our relationship a priority, which has made a good impact on our marriage. I was literally so excited every single time I got to see him. In a way, the rush I got walking down the aisle toward him on our wedding day felt like a familiar rush I got every time I got to see him when we were dating. I think I have been walking down the aisle toward him my whole life.

So when Davey proposed on March 9, 2013, I accepted. Ill post about that tomorrow.

3 easy ways to prevent knee pain

Knee pain is one of the most common conditions I treat. To fix it, I alter a lot of bad habits and reorganize the way my patients move in basic daily tasks. I wish that I was somehow able to go back 10, 20, 30 years and tell my older patients these 3 easy ways to protect their knees from pain. Knee pain may have a small genetic component, but it can be entirely prevented through using our movement systems as they were designed to be used.

IMG_0007

1. Sit in a mechanically aligned position. Don’t cross your legs. Crossing your legs places the hip and knees out of alignment, causing certain muscles to stiffen (I’m looking at you, IT band) and other muscles to lengthen (the gluts). Any muscle imbalance around the hips and knees causes the knees to move in a faulty pattern. When sitting, make sure to keep your knees aligned with your feet. If your feet point outward, but your knees point straight ahead, you are likely twisting your knee joint.

IMG_0015 knee pain IMG_0021

2. Use good mechanics when getting up from a chair. Your knees should be aligned with your feet. As women, we tend to allow our knees to move together, or inward, when rising to stand and/or when sitting down. This causes relatively more pressure on the outside of our knees and stretches the ligaments on the inside of the knees, making the knee less stable. If you think about how many times we stand up and down in our lives, this can lead to enough wear and tear to cause knee pain.

knee pain knee pain

3. Don’t hyperextend. When you are waiting in line in the grocery store, talking to friends after church, or doing dishes, unlock your knees. It may be tiresome to stand with your knees unlocked, but overtime it will become a habit and prevent your ligaments from getting so loose that they lose the ability to truly stabilize your knee.

knee pain

Share with all your friends lest you want to spend retirement writing “Get well soon” cards for everyone who had knee replacements.

Return to Running After Pregnancy

IMG_1178

Postpartum has been a long road. And not the kind of “oh, what a journey…” road. The first days after Seton’s birth I didn’t so much want to roll over in bed. I was definitely not dreaming of tying up my shoelaces and going for a run. But eventually, albeit after many weeks, I found myself promising the exercise gods that I would never complain about working out again as I watched Netflix count down to the next episode of my TV marathon in utter disbelief that my current state of life existed on a couch. Being restricted from doing something just makes you want to do it, right? I longed for the feeling of my tennis shoes hitting pavement, my heart beating through my chest, and my frequent breath mixing with the fall air.

running after pregnancy

We may be anxious to return to running after pregnancy, but it’s important to make our comebacks gradual. Lots of changes just happened to our bodies and, as mothers, we now need our bodies to take care of our babies. Being injured isn’t an option.

To prepare for running, I encourage you to strengthen your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles through the abdominal progression and pelvic floor exercise progression I recommend. Having strong abdominals for running can reduce the risk of injury to our backs, hips, knees, ankles, and even should girdles and necks! The abdominals will work to stabilize our backs and pelvis to allow the limbs to generate movement for each step.

I also encourage you to strengthen your gluteals. You should do this the same way I recommended doing it throughout your pregnancy: by performing Hip Abduction with Lateral Rotation (“The Clamshell”). You can read through the steps in my post Top 3 Exercises Every Pregnant Woman Should Do.

When you feel as though your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are strong enough that you can keep them contracted throughout the course of the day (even when going up/down stairs or getting up for the floor while holding your baby), you are likely ready to begin a running progression. Make sure your doctor has cleared you to exercise!

To begin, start with running and walking at one minute intervals, aka run a minute, walk a minute. Prior to pregnancy, I told my patients to do this for 30-minutes. But, now that I am experiencing the joys of postpartum first-hand, I recommend doing this for as long as you can up to 30-minutes. I started my progression (ahem, last night) and barely made it to 18 minutes. I walked that last 12 minutes telling myself, “whatever, I’m strong…I pushed a human out of my body!” as I somehow heard my heart beating the way you do after an insane workout.

Since you are only running one minute at a time, use the minute to focus on running with good form. After pregnancy, our bodies will forget we have abdominals and gluteals, so we will be relying on muscles like the tensor fascia lata (TFL, which is the muscle that controls the infamous IT band) that can lead to injury. Focus on contracting your abdominals. Review my post Improve Your Running Stride Part II: The Gluteals which will help you use your gluteals to improve your stride.

Once you hit this walk/run cycle for 30 minutes, start aiming for running 2-minutes, then walking 1-minute up to 30-minutes.

Add a minute to your running spurts when you feel ready (should be every three to five runs), and so on.

Keep in mind:

Do not push yourself too quickly. Your muscles need time to catch up to what you are asking your body to do.

Do not set time goals until you are confident you can run with good form.

If you’re having unusual aches, pains, or … ahem, dare I say leaking, talk to your physical therapist.

And, lastly, you may want to wear two bras. :)

This was my reaction to finally getting the green light from my doctor to exercise:

running after pregnancy

Hopefully you enjoy you first run back as much as I did.

***The content of www.kayleemay.com is for informational purposes only. The information presented is not to be taken as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are having pain, or seeking medical advice, talk to your health care provider. Do not delay in seeking treatment because of information you have read on www.kayleemay.com. Taking recommendations presented on www.kayleemay.com is solely at your own risk***

A Guide to Abdominal Strengthening For Runners

abdominal strengthening

As technology becomes a greater influence, it becomes more common for me to hear from my patients that they previously looked up exercises to treat their injury on Google before they even get to me. Part of me thinks, Yes! People are taking ownership of their health! And the other part of me cringes in anticipation to hear what they read online. It’s a great thing that we have so many resources at our fingertips to learn how to take care of our bodies, but it’s really hard to know what to trust when reading through things online.

The runners I treat all have their own understanding of how to strengthen their abdominals. So I put myself in my patients’ (running) shoes and Googled “abdominal strengthening exercises” to see where they were getting their information.

I wanted to cry. None of them were exercises I would refer to the majority of my patients, and certainly none of them were exercises I would suggest to my runners.

When strengthening our abdominals (which is an important part of a good running stride), we have to consider what movements are happening during the exercise. We want the exercise to essentially mimic the movement of the stride. When does the movement of a sit-up occur during running?! NEVER! When does a “crunch” happen during a running stride?! NEVER! So why is the internet telling us to bend our backs repeatedly to strengthen our abs for running? Just because we feel a muscle burn does not mean the exercise is beneficial.

During running, we want our low back to stay relatively still. The movement we generate is coming from our limbs. I want to provide runners with a guide to abdominal strengthening that mimics the running stride.

This post will take you through 5 abdominal exercises, each progressively more difficult. You will notice that the low back does not move at any point in the exercises. Rather, the abs work to stabilize as the limb movement becomes progressively more challenging. To work through the exercises, you must first successfully perform up to 20 repetitions correctly before progressing to the next exercise. Therefore, you may be on one level for up to 2 weeks before you feel you are ready for the next. If you can not perform an exercise without moving your low back (arching it away from the floor, pushing into the floor, or allowing your abdominal muscles to “pooch” up toward the ceiling), you must go back down to the previous level.

Level 1

abdominal strengthening
Level I Abdominal Strengthening for Runners

Step 1: Lay on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor.
Step 2: Contract abdominals buy pulling navel toward your spine as you exhale.
Step 3: Hold 5-10 seconds.
Step 4: Repeat 10-20 times.

Watch out! Do not push your back into the floor or arch it away from the floor. Your stomach should be sinking DOWN, not pushing UP toward the ceiling.

Perform exercise daily until you feel you are able to do 20 repetitions correctly.

Level 2

abdominal strengthening
Level 2 Abdominal Strengthening for Runners

Step 1: Perform abdominal contraction as in Level 1.
Step 2: Raise one leg so hip is bent 90 degrees while maintaining abdominal contraction.
Step 3: Place leg back to starting position as in Step 1.
Step 4: Raise contralateral leg so hip is bent 90 degrees while maintaining abdominal contraction.
Step 5: Place leg back to starting position as in Step 1.
Step 6: Repeat 10-20 times.

Watch out! Do not push your back into the floor or arch it away from the floor. Your stomach should be sinking DOWN, not pushing UP toward the ceiling.

Perform exercise daily until you feel you are able to do 20 repetitions correctly.

Level 3

abdominal strengthening
Level 3 Abdominal Strengthening for Runners

Step 1: Perform abdominal contraction as in Level 1.
Step 2: Raise one leg so hip is bent 90 degrees while maintaining an abdominal contraction.
Step 3: Maintain position of Step 2 and raise opposite leg so hip is bent 90 degrees.
Step 4: Place one foot back to starting position (keep those abs contracted!)
Step 5: Place the other foot back to the starting position (keep those abs contracted!)
Step 6: Repeat 10-20 times.

Watch out! Do not push your back into the floor or arch it away from the floor. Your stomach should be sinking DOWN, not pushing UP toward the ceiling.

Perform exercise daily until you feel you are able to do 20 repetitions correctly.

Level 4

abdominal strengthening
Level 4 Abdominal Strengthening for Runners

Step 1: Perform abdominal contraction as in Level 1.
Step 2: Raise one leg so hip is bent 90 degrees.
Step 3: Raise opposite leg so hip is bent 90 degrees.
Step 4: Straighten out one leg, keeping heel close to the floor.
Step 5: Bring leg back to position in Step 3 (bent 90 degrees).
Step 6: Straighten opposite leg, keeping heel close to the floor.
Step 7: Bring leg back to position in Step 3 (bent 90 degrees).
Step 8: Continue alternating extending each leg (as if running!) while keeping abdominals contracted for 10 -20 repetitions.

Watch out! Do not push your back into the floor or arch it away from the floor. Your stomach should be sinking DOWN, not pushing UP toward the ceiling. If you cannot straighten your leg without moving your back, try sliding your heel on the floor. Progress to being able to straighten your leg with your heel just above the floor.

Perform exercise daily until you feel you are able to do 20 repetitions correctly.

Level 5

abdominal strengthening
Level 5 Abdominal Strengthening for Runners

Step 1: Perform abdominal contraction as in Level 1.
Step 2: Lift one leg so hip is bent 90 degrees.
Step 3: Lift other leg so hip is bent 90 degrees.
Step 4: While maintaining your abdominal contraction, straighten BOTH legs so heels are just above floor.
Step 5: Bring both legs back up to being bent 90 degrees.
Step 6: Repeat straightening both legs at the same time for 10-20 repetitions.

Watch out! Do not push your back into the floor or arch it away from the floor. Your stomach should be sinking DOWN, not pushing UP toward the ceiling. If you cannot straighten your leg without moving your back, try sliding your heel on the floor. Progress to being able to straighten your leg with your heel just above the floor.

Perform exercise daily.

Want more running advice? Read these:

Improve Your Running Stride Part I: The IT Band

Improve Your Running Stride Part II: The Gluteals

Improve Your Running Stride Part III: The Running Shoe

Stretches For Every Runner

***The content of www.kayleemay.com is for informational purposes only. The information presented is not to be taken as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are having pain, or seeking medical advice, talk to your health care provider. Do not delay in seeking treatment because of information you have read on www.kayleemay.com. Taking recommendations presented on www.kayleemay.com is solely at your own risk***

Improve Your Running Stride Part II: The Gluteals

100_0852
My favotite beach run ever!
My favotite beach run ever!

25211_770495583588_7711246_43596226_5433885_n

In my previous post Improve Your Running Stride Part I: The IT Band, we discussed how runners typically have stiff IT bands. A stiff IT band has the potential to lead to hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, and back pain. Simply stretching the IT band will not solve the problem; rather, a runner has to change how he uses his muscles when he runs to prevent the IT band from tightening up.

As mentioned in Part I, the key to reducing the use of the IT band lies in increasing the recruitment of the gluteals during runs (a stronger booty!)

Changing your running form can be a daunting task and may require increased energy expenditure at first. But with these three basic tips, you will be using your gluteals—which are some powerful muscles—in no time.

On your next run, practice these three things:

1. Think of yourself as one of two types of runners: a runner who pulls himself forward with each step, or a runner that pushes himself forward with each step. To use your gluteals, you need to be a runner that pushes yourself forward. Give the ground a good push to get to your next step.

2. With respect to number one, make sure your foot hits the ground directly below your body as opposed to reaching ahead of your body. If your foot reaches too far forward, you will likely have to pull yourself to the next step. When you think of placing your foot directly below your body during your next run, you may feel as though you are leaning forward. Strangely enough, that’s okay. Leaning forward a little puts your gluteals in a position in which their contraction will much stronger.

3. As your leg is swinging through, but before it contacts the ground, raise your knee a little higher. Colleagues of mine commonly use the cue, “pretend you’re riding a bike down a hill and your legs are trying to keep up with the pedals.” Raising your knees up will bend the hip more, allowing the gluteals to work through a greater range of motion. Another benefit of bringing your knees higher is that it allows more time in the air and less time on the ground. Research shows that faster runners spend more time airborne than slower runners. Therefore, this little clue may get you to the finish line quicker.

Changing the way you run in even the smallest way will initially make your runs more fatiguing. I encourage you to practice these three things in two minute intervals until you feel like you are getting the hang of it. You’ll feel funny running this way at first, and you will be sore the next day. But no worries; keep practicing, and it will become second nature.

Now you can spend more time running and less time stretching your IT band.

Are you curious about which running shoes are the best for your foot? Part III will discuss how you should go about choosing a running shoe based off the shape of your foot.

100_0852

***The content of www.kayleemay.com is for informational purposes only. The information presented is not to be taken as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are having pain, or seeking medical advice, talk to your health care provider. Do not delay in seeking treatment because of information you have read on www.kayleemay.com. Taking recommendations presented on www.kayleemay.com is solely at your own risk***