When it comes to one thing I wish I know when I started triathlon back in 1992 what the benefits of core stability and hip mobility for sustainability in the sport and injury resistance. Coming from a swimming background, my heart and lungs were ready to go, my muscles, tendons, and ligaments used for running were not. I was injured on and off the first 16 years while training for a triathlon. I never sustained an injury that I could not continue biking and swimming, just ones that forced me time off running. From hip to ankle, I struggled with IT band syndrome, posterior tibias tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, groin, and hip flexor pulls, shin splints, as well as a second metatarsal stress fracture. Read more here about these types of injuries. Nothing that kept me out of my sport, even with the stress fracture, I could always swim and bike while forced rest from running.
Fast forward to 2009, after my sustaining calcaneus bursitis which kept me off running for about 7 months ending with walking the marathon in Kona, I decided I will do whatever it takes to not get injured again. What was I missing in my training program? It was CORE STRENGTH and HIP MOBILITY and I spent the last 3 months of 2009 educating myself about core functional strength training. I took a MovementU class, started working out TRX, and Beachbody programs, P90X, and Insanity and attended yoga and pilates. All of these programs focused on my core stability and hip mobility.
What is your “core”?
Your core muscles compose the front and back area between your shoulders and hips, not just your abs and lower back. Your core includes the areas around your hips that allow extension, flexion, and rotation oblique. Core stability is what helps support your spine, allowing you to sit and stand tall instead of slouching. As an endurance athlete, your dominant muscle groups (pecs/lats/quads/glutes/hamstrings) get stronger by the repetitive nature of swimming, biking and running, while your smaller stabilizer muscles (the 26 muscles that make up your core and that help generate power) become weak.
After you take a seasonal break, it is important to rebuild your core strength and hip mobility to help set the foundation for endurance, become more efficient and to create muscle balance before you start building muscular strength and base miles in your sport. Having a strong core and hip stability helps lengthen your body and create an ideal position for swimming, biking and running.
I am not a therapist, I just know from my experience as an athlete and working with my physical therapist in Fort Collins CO, Paula Nickel, click here to listen to her on the Endurance Hour Podcast, and now my A.R.T, Dr. Scoville, in Georgia, I understand that the root cause of endurance athletes injuries are a weak glute medius. When the glute medius is “shut down”, turned off, not activated, other muscles take over, get overstressed, overworked, therefore, the root cause of all of the injuries. Based on my experience, Muscle Activation therapy, and Active Release Technique along with movements I can do on my own after I am activated, to stay functional.
Below are some of my favorite core stability and hip mobility (glute medius strengthing) programs and movements that have helped me stay injury free since I started implementing them into my program in 2010. I have still struggled with minor injuries since, and it is usually during periods that I stop doing my glute movements
If you want to follow the instruction in the comfort of your how home, or anyplace with WIFI and app, I recommend Beachbody on Demand with the following programs:
- P90x2. The first phase of P90X2 involves 4 weeks of mobility exercises utilizing the foam roller, stability ball and medicine balls.
- PiYo is a flowing combination of Pilates and Yoga moves
- MaxInsanity:30 workouts offer dynamic lateral and balance movements, running drill and plyometric focused
Another in Home Favorite of mine is TRX
If you are not into the TRX or Beachbody programs, click here to learn more about my injury prevention program that I dominate with during the transitional and preparation phase of training using bands and dumbbells. After I master the basics, I do vary the movements, advance the intensity and difficulty every few weeks for variety while keeping then general movement pattern similar.
Mobility is influenced by your fascia, nervous system, soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) and your joint structure (how the bones interact). Spend 5 to 10 minutes before and after your workout, using a foam roll, massage stick or a baseball and activate your muscles with dynamic movements to remain injury free
“If you always do, what you always did, you will always get, what you always got.”
As an endurance athlete, it is inevitable that strength training/cross-training is a must—whether it’s due to an injury, recovery from a race, or rest after a long season—core training will be a necessity in any serious athletes life and should be included in a well-rounded endurance training program.
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