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running

Lack of Internal Hip Rotation Relates to Low Back & Hip Pain

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Improving internal hip rotation is important for a variety of reasons including:

  • It allows us to go into a deep squat position safely

  • Key contributor to knee and low back pain

  • Poor movement for rotation sport athletes like baseball or even golf

  • For runners, it doesn’t allow the athlete to extend the hip to engage the glute.

Hip IR should be tested in two positions, because different structures can limit your range of motion depending on whether the hip is extended or flexed. The second test is actually a mobilization for improving hip IR if and when progressed properly.

Testing Seated Internal Hip Rotation

Sit at the end of a table, with your knees bent over the side, and hold onto the table itself.

Now internally rotate the hip, without abducting or side bending, which is a sign of compensating with the lower back.

Generally speaking 35 degrees is good in the general fitness population and 40-45 degrees in competitive athletes.

A quick check to see if you may simply have a "lazy" side if one leg has better hip IR than the other. Perform a side plank on the side that's lagging and reassess. It should improve if it's simply an activation problem, otherwise it helps to narrow down the problem to a structural/muscular or alignment (though not very common) problem. 

Mobilizations to Improve Hip IR

Kneeling Glute MOB

  • Set up on all fours with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips.

  • Maintain a slight arch in the lower back and place your right foot on the back of your left knee.

  • With your back set sit back into your right hip and hold for a 1-2 count before moving back. Perform 5-10 reps on both sides.

Lying Knee Pull Ins

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Exaggerate the width between your feet.

  • Think about trying to internally rotate your femurs which as a result have your knees touch together while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold for a two count and return to the starting position. The stretch should be felt in the hips and not the knees.

  • Perform 8-12 reps before working out.

  • Good for those with muscular restrictions.

Prone Windshield Wipers (TEST #2)

  • Lie on your stomach with your knees together and feet up in the air.

  • Keeping the knees together, let the feet fall out to the sides.

  • Hold for a two count and return to the starting position.

  • Perform 8-12 reps prior to workout.

  • This is great in particular for those with a capsular restriction.

Passive Internal Rotation Stretch

This goodie comes courtesy of Dean Somerset. This is more of an advanced stretch and would be sure to be able to knock out all the above aforementioned ones before using this one to help maintain proper hip IR.

  • Sit at the end of a table or elevated step and lift one leg back into internal rotation as shown.

  • Progressively work your work close to the table, and hold for 30 seconds.

  • Repeat on the other leg.

I hope that this post will help steer you in the right direction to improve your lifts in the gym and your times on the trail.

If you should have any specific questions please shoot me a message and I'll be happy to try and help out. If any of this information was insightful, helpful or funny please share it with a friend!

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How to be a Healthy Runner

The key component to more efficient running and avoiding most injuries is improving on landing softly. Not exactly groundbreaking advice but how does one go about learning to absorb contact more effectively?

First thing to address is technique. Landing hard on your heel is often due to over-striding instead of landing with the foot underneath your hip. Butt-kicks mimic where your foot shot be landing, when you're warming up perform a few meters of butt-kicks before resuming your regular stride.

Second would be posture. You want to maintain a slight forward lean which will in turn aide in your ability to use gravity to land more mid-foot. I always think hips high and run tall. I would be remiss if I didn't mention not everyone likes to run with a forefoot landing, preferring a heel landing, which still doesn't change the focus of today's topic of "landing softly". Many elite long distance runners are heel to toe type runners, so you have to find what sort of stride works bests for you. 

Often heard advice on running faster is increasing cadence, or stride frequency, but if you're plodding along loudly like a hungry dog the only thing that's going to increase are hip, knee and ankle issues. 

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The final thing I would address is strength training protocol. Are you performing any type of jump training? It's important to focus on absorbing contact just as much as it is in learning how to produce more of it.

Here is a Depth Jump progression that can help you start running 

Depth Drop

  • Teaches you how to land properly and absorb the impact.
  • The mechanics are similar to squatting, I would not have a client perform any type of plyometric work until they can properly demonstrate a basic understanding of the squat. 

Depth Jump

  • Like the depth drop, upon landing immediately dip back down and explode up. 
  • Focus on landing softly.

Single Leg Depth Jump

  • Stepping off a 12 inch box, landing softly with both feet. 
  • Using only one leg, dip down and jump straight up. Land softly and repeat. This time by jumping off the other foot upon landing. 

Depth Broad Jump

  • Step off a 12 inch box, landing softly and immediately performing a broad jump.
  • Focus on using the hips, full extending, and once again land softly.

Ice Skater & Bounding

  • Ice skater focuses on lateral absorption and power development. 
  • Motion needs to occur from the hips, land softly. As competency increases, so can speed of the movement. 
  • Bounding is a forward motion, great for working on timing, footwork, and linear power development. 

Give these a try and see how it might improve your ability to run faster, run longer and stay injury free. 

 

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Exercise Breakdown: One Arm KB Racked Carry

The one arm kettle bell racked carry is a favorite of mine for a few reasons. As is with all loaded carries, they're a core endurance exercise you can't cheat on. This version also helps to lock in the proper core position: THINK: Neutral, Brace, and Breathe. 

HOW TO:

1. Choose a kb and lift it up to the rack position at a shoulder. 

2. Positioning should be:

  • Elbow packed down by the body
  • Kettle bell resting into your body
  • Wrist neutral
  • Thumb into your collarbone

3. Walk down in a controlled manner focusing on not swaying or leaning. Don't forget to switch sides. 

NOTES

  • The unilateral loading like in a suitcase carry will force you to stabilize the body and not allow it to lean away. 
  • Don't stick your arm straight out to your side, it defeats the purpose of the exercise by helping to "balance" yourself out. 
  • Instead make a fist and simply keep your arm down by your side. 
  • This is a great go-to move for anyone with rotator cuff issues as it is a huge isometric loaded move. You feel all the muscles in the shoulder working without having to move your arm anywhere.
  • Work up alternating between simple one way trips and lightening up the load and performing one side for multiple trips or even for timed sets building up endurance in the shoulder.  

Technique Breakdown: Turkish Get Up

Why Perform Turkish Get Ups (TGU)

  • Core strength and stability
  • T-spine mobility
  • Hip mobility
  • Hip extension (glute) strength
  • Gleno-humeral (shoulder) stability
  • Body awareness and proprioception
  • I get to say "SWEEP THE LEG"

How To

  1. The first step is “packing” your shoulder/shoulder blade down and back. Everything outlined will be with the right hand being loaded. 

    If you’re holding the weight in your right hand, your right knee should be flexed with your heel back near your glutes, and your left leg should be slightly angled straight.

  2. The first motion is a crunch to get up to your left elbow.  Dan John uses the term “punch and crunch,” So you’re going to crunch and punch, but also drive through your right heel as well. If done with lengthening the left heel it'll be much easier to keep the left leg straight and flat. 

    One key with the crunch is to think of leading with your t-spine or chest. You don’t want your chest caved over.  Instead, think about really exaggerating keeping the chest up and out.

  3. After getting to your elbow you simply shift your weight onto your left hand. Maintaining your sight on your right hand, right shoulder packed and chest up and out. 

  4. After shifting to your hand you’re going to actively drive through your right heel into a high bridge.  The focal point should be to extend the hips, squeezing the glutes to get full hip extension. This would be the point in the exercise where if you're lacking good thoracic mobility, it'll begin to show. Beyond just the hip extension/glute strength, you’re also getting some fantastic shoulder stabilizing benefits on the left-hand side as well.

  5. Anyone who grew up watching the original Karate Kid will love coaching this part as it's commonly accepted to cue "SWEEP THE LEG". 

    From the high position you think about sweeping your left leg back until your left knee is on the ground underneath you. Here if the client exhibits poor lumbar control, they'll often slip out of neutral. If they have poor hip mobility they will be unable to keep neutral spine as well. 

    I cue chest up, and keep their lower back as flat as they can which will help them to be mindful of staying "long" through their spine. 

  6. From there all your going to do is rotate your left leg so it's straight and you should look like the bottom of a lunge. Are you still looking at your right hand? You should be. 

  7. Now look forward, and stand up. Really it's that simple. 

  8. From there go backwards, perform a reverse lunge. 

  9. Once you’re set-up in the half kneeling position, find the kettlebell with your eyes, and doing the “windshield wiper” motion with your left lower leg to get it back into position and actively driving into your right hip. If you do this correctly you should be able to maintain a fairly neutral spine, and get a killer stretch in your right hip as well.

  10. SWEEP THE LEG! 

    On the transition back, we don’t tend to focus on the high bridge as much. Instead, I’ll often integrate a lower “high bridge” at the same time I’m sweeping the leg through.  This portion of the lift should look more fluid than anything. 

  11. With the hips extended, simply drop down to your left hand. Is your shoulder still packed, core tight and eyes fixed on KB?

  12. Then down to your elbow and on back down to the floor for the starting position. 

More Protein? No Whey!

Photo by  Celia Sun  on  Unsplash

Photo by Celia Sun on Unsplash

Protein supplements and meal-replacement products containing proteins have four commonly used scientific measure of protein quality. 

  1. Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) which is a measure of growth of animals consuming a fixed amount of dietary protein of a single type. Often considered less applicable to humans. 
  2. Biological Value of a protein is a measure of the amount of protein that is retained from total absorbed quantity for body composition. 
  3. Net Protein Utilization measure the amount of amino acids available by any one given protein source which are then synthasized in the body as a new protein. 
  4. Chemical Score is a measure of the concentration of the nine essential amino acids from a single protein source. 

Whey

Whey protein is one of two protein types found in milk often during cheese making, the other being casein. The two type soft proteins are separated from each other and whey was often considered useless. It was discovered that it was a high quality protein. 

It is a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and rates well on all 4 measures for protein measures. 

Whey Isolate: Purest form (90-95% by weight) of whey that is great for those who are lactose intolerant as it has had all the lactose removed. 
Whey Concentrate: Most common form of whey protein (60-70% by weight). It is inexpensive and can easily be added to different types of products. 
Whey Hydrolysate: The protein has water added to the polymers breaking them down into it's individual amino acids. This is to help with the body's digestion and absorption. This is a more expensive form to produce. 

Casein

As I mentioned above, casein is distilled through the production of cheese. One for the most important differences in Casein from Whey is that it is an excellent source of glutamine. 

It has lower concentrations of BCAA's than whey and because of a higher lactose content can be problematic for those who don't digest the sugar well.

For many strength and physique athletes the slower digestion aides for longer periods of time when there will not be any consumption of food like while sleeping.

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Soy

Rich in BCAA but contains only a small amount of methionine. Most forms of soy are highly digestible and absorbed quickly but for many it is considered a slightly inferior source of protein. 

Soy isolate is fortified with methionine which now makes it fairly comparable to whey and casein. One of the disadvantages are the isoflavones (anti-nutrients) which have been shown to have an estrogenic effect in the body.

Other Commonly Found Proteins

Rice Protein

Gluten free, neutral tasting and very budget friendly. May be derived from genetically modified rice. 

Egg Protein

Fat free, contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids. May cause upset stomachs. 

Milk Protein

Often seen as Calcium casein ate. High in BCAA's, contains lactose which may or may not cause upset stomachs. 

Hemp Protein

Great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Provides fiber as well. 100% plant based protein. 

Which Protein should you take?

Well that would vary depending on your goals and dietary preferences. But first and foremost is making sure that you're getting the majority of your protein from whole foods and less processed animal and plant based sources. They're called dietary supplements and shouldn't be considered a main staple of your daily intake, rather in addition to.