After (almost) six glorious week in Ohio, I am back in North Dakota and I’ve hit the ground running – literally!
The weather here has been pretty amazing, so I have been taking full advantage!
I worked with a few runners and other sport athletes while in Ohio, and one reoccurring theme I was seeing (in myself especially with all the driving I was doing – 21 hours each way just to get there from ND!) was tight and shortened hip flexors. Most folks *I* know, no matter how athletic they are, spend way too much time each day sitting; at their desks, in their cars, or on the couch. Guess what happens then? Yup – that flexed hip position during sitting can lead to tight and shortened hip flexors. Now think about the movement a lot of athletes perform, in this case running; those hip are being asked to flex and extend, flex and extend, over and over. When a movement pattern is free from dysfunction, there will be little problem. But continuously loading and/or doing repetitive motion with a tight (or weak, or imbalanced) muscle group can lead to issues.
When the muscles that make up what most people refer to as the “hip flexors”(iliacus and psoas) are tight or shortened, they can contribute to issues ranging from low back pain, knee pain, hip pain, hamstring issues and even glute inhibition. Who has time for that?! Not most of the runners and athletes I know!
So here is a great little stretch to help restore length to the hip flexors. To do this stretch, you’ll need a yoga bolster (as seen in the picture below) or a DIY bolster made from a thick rolled blanket or towel. I have even used a half dome for this stretch!
Lie on your back, with the bolster underneath your glutes. This is one exercise where I don’t discourage tucking the pelvis, so allow the pelvis to tilt back and “tuck”. Hug the bent knee to your chest, and allow the straight leg to extend out (watch for the tendency of this leg to roll out or in). Keep this leg straight, do not bend the knee here or you won’t get the full benefit of this stretch. While simple looking enough, this a stretch that does a lovely job of helping to restore length in shortened and tight hips. That straight leg is pulled down toward the floor through gravity (this is a passive stretch; in other words don’t force the leg down to the ground) and in doing so, you are allowing the hip flexors to lengthen and stretch. This should feel really good! Hold each side for 60 sec.
In other news, I tried a new gel on my longer runs in Ohio!
Carb boom! gels was a product I had not heard of before the company was kind enough to send me a sample pack. I am not a huge gel kinda gal (I prefer whole foods) BUT I will absolutely use them during long runs and races, especially in the latter stages when I’m less inclined to feel like chewing. In any case, when I do use gels lately I stick with Huma, but I like variety and having options, so it was fun to try a new product.
Overall, I am very pleased with this brand of gel! The flavors where great (I am quite fond of the strawberry-kiwi) and the consistency is very smooth (unlike the grittier consistency of Huma). I didn’t experience any flash crashes or issues, either, which is a huge plus. These gels are a little sweeter than I have been using lately, so this could be a turn off for some; but also can provide a nice little boost in the latter stages of a race or run. And since I crave different things at different stages of training runs/races, this provides a nice change of pace from my usual. The only flavor I wasn’t crazy about was grape-pomegranate; it was a little too “medicinal” in flavor (think cough syrup) but not enough that I would refuse to try it again. All in all, I recommend giving Carb boom! a try. You can find out more about them HERE.
What’s your favorite gel brand and flavor?