Monday, December 14, 2009

Strength and Function

Recently I googled "Fitness Blogs" and I was blown away just by how many people write about being "fit". At this time of year it is a common theme, I read a lot of posts about how 2010 is going to be the year that the author got really "fit".

For some that means having single digit bodyfat, which has more to do with nutrition as opposed to "fitness", but for me, the term "fitness" means being able to do all that I want to do (and then some) without being limited by pain or weakness. For example if I set my goal to be able to bench press my bodyweight, then I want to be able to do it without injuring myself. If I want to run a sub 45 minute 10k, I want to be able to do it without developing shin splints or a cranky pelvis.

Which means that for most of us, it's good to work from the ground up - make sure your body is in the best alignment/posture given your anatomical limitations, your core musculature works properly and that you follow a nice steady progression in load/duration rather than jump in at the deep end. Many of us find the foundational type of work rather dull, but when you think about the long term benefits, I find it rather exciting.

Today's training involved an easy 40 minute run and 30 minutes of self myofascial release work using a foam roller and some pilates. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the class I taught on Saturday was a real rip snorter from the intensity point of view, my quads and hip flexors were tight this morning from all that riding, so today's workout makes good sense physiologically and psychologically. First, I worked on stretching out my hip flexors and quads and then focused on the pilates side of things (mostly glute activation stuff and lower ab coordination) - then repeated - much better activation after releasing some tone from the front of my thigh.

Tips for foam rolling:
1) Be gentle! If you're in pain, you're doing little to initiate the "relax" reflex!
2) When you find a tight spot, rather than rolling backward and forward over it, just be still and focus on that particular spot - in muscles lies something called a Golgi Tendon Organ which relaxes the muscle in response to tension. Once you have "released" the spot, move onto the next.
3) Don't overdo it - just go over each spot once.

1 comment:

Kerry W said...

Thanks Liz. Love this sought of stuff. Can you do a post on the foam rolling? I know Lia has done some posts of this and myofascial release, but I'd love another perspective. Having a hell of a time with my hammies at present. I've never experienced tightness to this degree, so I'm thinking some foam rolling may help in it's release. Thanks & Cheers...Kerry :)