Here at Strong Nutrients, we’ve decided that since March is the month when so many people get back outdoors and get active, that we should look at helping you to get back your strength & into shape, in particular from the waist down!
This is the time of year that people head for the snow, skiing & snow-boarding, or embrace the great outdoors with those brighter evenings. The running and tennis shoes come out, as do those football boots. All the while those in the fitness industry get prepared to deal with the busiest time of year for pulls and strains! Those months of sitting and “hibernating” those hamstrings glutes, calves as well as the lower abs have likely taken their toll, with each that little bit lazier, weaker and tighter.
For so many, issues or pain in the knees, hips and even back, are not actual issues with the joints or the spine, but rather issues with the muscle - certain muscles that should support are pulling or simply not activating, causing the poor joint or spine to be pushed and pulled in all the wrong ways!
So, over the course of this month, we’re going to be focussing on these key, yet so often forgotten areas, from your calves & hamstrings to your glutes, into the quads, and the lower abdominals.
Let’s start with these hamstrings – those vital muscles that give you the spring in your step, help you jump out of the chair (or off the loo!) and hold you stable whether you ski – see 1m08s: the glutes and hamstrings, as you “sit back” into position - or play tennis, that little spring – see 1m14s – comes from the glutes and of course, hamstrings.
To be clear there are more advantages to training this muscle group than mere sports prowess…Working hamstrings is great for posture, takes pressure of your back and it can make all the difference in the world to your knees.
THE EXERCISE: HAMSTRING CURL (See 1m33s).
Equipment: Foam roller or Swiss ball (Almost everyone has a foam roller hidden in a cupboard at home!)
The strength or suppleness of the hamstrings will influence your range on this one. Like all exercises, start gently and build up. Lying on your mat, with the roller just 6-7 inches from your glutes, place the sole of your feet on the roller. Keep your legs parallel , hip distance apart and knees bent. Your arms remain relaxed by your side.
- Go into a bridge position, lifting your hips as high as you feel comfortable, and hold for a 30 seconds. (If this is your first time doing this exercise, you may find that’s enough as you feel it on the backs of your legs. In which case relax and repeat and before moving to the next step below).
- Keeping hips and knees super steady – no wobbling or dipping – use your feet to gently roll the roller from your heels to your toes and back. Do this 6 times.
- Repeat this 3 times, on the 2nd set, turn your toes out a little. And on the 3rd, turn them inwards.
- Once this all feels easy, move to full range. The full range is very similar as above, - see 3m07 s – however now you roll until the roller is on the back of your shoe. At this point hips will drop, however place them back as high as you can as soon as you roll back onto the sole of your show, keeping them up for the length of the reminder of the move.
If you can get your hamstrings supple and strong, then getting from sitting to standing, squats, hill-climbing, hiking, tennis, football, running and skiing will all become easier and even better, the chance an injury diminishes considerably!
Zana Morris, Founder