Try the following exercises and stretches to help you move more efficiently and move toward a more effortless run.
Pelvic Rock – Start lying on the floor on your back with bent and feet flat. Move the pelvis from a posterior tilt to an anterior tilt to help stretch the lumbar spine area and improve hip mobility. The pelvic rock is a great movement to improve pelvic and spinal mobility. Controlled mobility is an important goal to work toward when exercising. Positive outcome: increase hip mobility, strengthen the abdominals and glutes, ease lower back tension and pain and gently stretch the lower back muscles.
Lumbar Rock – Start in a lying down position with your knees bent and feet close and flat on the floor. Rock your knees over to one side slowly until you feel a stretch that is comfortable for you. Then bring them back to your start position. Rock your knees over to the opposite side.
Child’s Pose – Most people love this stretch. Starting in a quad position with your knees together or wider than your hips. Sit back as far as you can onto your feet, reaching your hands as far forward as you can, letting your shoulders ride up toward your ears for a good back stretch. If your knees are together, you will feel a supported flexed position of your spine. If your knees are wide, you will feel a slight extension of the spine or a lengthening in a neutral spine. Breath deep into the back area to feel a nice stretch in the upper back.
Hamstring Stretch – Standing upright with your hips and body facing a step, place one heel on the step, flex your foot, hips even and flat back, hinging at the hips. If you can maintain a neutral pelvis, you will get more out of the stretch.
Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Kneeling on one knee (place a cushion under your knee for more comfort) with your opposite foot on the ground, both knees are flexed to 90 degrees. Gently contract the glutes while gently pulling the abdominals in toward your spine. Try to keep your torso upright. Breathe and relax the neck and shoulders.
Release tight hip flexors and piriformis muscle. Pilates exercises provide great stretches for these muscles
Option one: Piriformis Stretch – Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet about hip distance apart. Bring the right knee up to the chest and support that leg with your left hand. Pull it towards the left shoulder and hold the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Option two: Piriformis Stretch – Lie on your back legs bent feet flat on the floor. Position yourself about a foot away from the wall. Extend your legs upward to rest your heels against the wall. Bend one leg, cross it over the leg that’s against the wall and rest your ankle just above your knee.
Keep in mind
Lack of activation of the glutes due to sitting for a long period of time, can lead to weak glutes and a pelvis that tilts posteriorly. If you run or walk with weak glutes and a pelvis that is positioned posteriorly, you will strengthen your body out of alignment. This could increase the risk of injury, joint stiffness, slouched posture, decreased mobility, and many other health issues might occur due to misalignment.
Pilates movement principles focus on maintaining the body in a neutral position and a neutral pelvis. This can help you move freely when needed and stabilize the pelvis and spine for a strong body. This is important for proper muscle function. For whole body movement, the structures that make up the core muscles, bones and ligaments in the trunk need to be strong. These structures work together through movement or static hold to enhance the quality of life. Your spine, trunk, and pelvis work together so the force you generate while exercising is transmitted through the body with very little impact on other structures. Inefficient pelvic and/or hip stabilization can cause many issues when exercising. Walking and running need a strong yet flexible mobile base that is ready to change position with movement at any time.
The pelvis is held in place by numerous muscles, including the abdominals, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. An imbalance of these muscles can lead to misalignment, and misalignment can lead to back pain or even injury. Strengthening these core muscles will help stabilize the pelvis and spine, so the next time you walk or run, you will have a strong base for a great run.
Working on a strong core with the pelvis in alignment, will help distribute the weight into the legs equally when you walk or run. This will allow for a more comfortable workout that will help create a strong balanced body.
Taking exercise back to the basics and focusing on proper form, is always a nice way to build stability. The next time you walk to prepare for a run, think about stabilizing the pelvis and lower back each time you step forward.