by Karli Taylor
As the temperature starts to drop and the conditions on the roads and sidewalks start to worsen, it becomes more difficult to keep consistency in your training. You have two primary options if you are going to keep logging the miles through the winter months: Bundle up and brave the elements or bring your training indoors to the treadmill.
For me, there’s nothing quite like a run in freshly fallen snow. I love the crisp, quiet air and the crunch under my feet. If you are planning on hitting the streets in the snow this year, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
Running in freshly fallen snow creates just enough instability underneath the feet to challenge muscles that may not typically fire during your fair weather workouts. If you are not prepared it could make your hip adductors, or inner thigh muscles, very unhappy with you!
The hip adductors are the muscles whose primary role is to bring the leg back toward the midline, making them vital to medial knee stability. These muscles are located on the inner thigh and serve vital roles in both active and static movement. As you run, the contraction of the adductor or "groin" muscles stabilizes the forward and backward swing of your running stride. When you are standing still, these muscles stabilize the equilibrium of the trunk by a constant adjustment of the pelvis. In both cases, these muscles are largely responsible for the redistribution of forces that are absorbed by the body. When they are not working properly, forces can be distributed directly onto the knee or the hip joints.
The adductors are already one of the weakest muscle groups in many athletes and adding cold, icy conditions to the mix can result in injury to this already tight and unstable region. In order to prevent muscle strain or worse, these muscles need to be both stretched and strengthened.
Bound angle pose, or Baddha Konasana, is a great way to stretch your inner thigh muscles and relieve tension in your hips.
Start sitting on the floor with your knees bent. Bring the bottoms of your feet to touch each other and let your knees fall out to the sides like a butterfly stretch. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can without letting the feet lift off of the floor. Grab onto your ankles or shins and sit up as tall as you can. As you sit in the pose, your knees will start to lower toward the floor.
If your hips are extremely tight, your knees will be raised high in the air and you may have trouble sitting up straight. If that’s the case, try sitting on a block, a folded up blanket or a pillow. Sitting with your hips above the level of your knees greatly reduces the stress and strain on your hips, knees, and back.
If you are still unable to settle, you can also place a block or blanket under each knee or thigh for extra support.
In addition to stretching the adductors, it’s also important to strengthen them so they can better stabilize the knee and hip joints. Try adding this simple (but not easy) lying inner thigh lift to your strength training routine.
Lie on your side with your head resting on your arm. Bend the knee of the top leg and plant the foot on the floor in front of you. Lift your bottom leg slightly off of the ground with your foot flexed and your heel angled toward the ceiling. From this position, lift your leg a few inches and return to start. The range of motion is small, but the benefits huge!
Click here to get Karli’s video of this technique.
Karli Taylor: Yoga For Runners Archive
Balance For Runners: Tree Pose or Vrksasana
Strengthening Your Back: Baddha Hasta Uttanasana, or Ragdoll
Combating Runner’s Butt - Ardha Matsyendra
Exercises to Help in Stability - Ananda Balasana
Stretching Hip Flexors – Anjaneyasana & Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Karli is now teaching a Yoga for Runners class on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at Keep Fit Personal Training Studio on Carman Road that is in the Different Blend Bakery complex.