Jul 152015
 

Recently at my physical therapy appointment my doctor gave me some new exercises and also gave me some progressions for exercises I was already doing to heal my back. My goal with PT was to fix my back pain, but more importantly to get back to the activities I love (biking, running, yoga, kettlebells). My therapist said that if you want to run, you should be doing a few specific exercises on a frequent basis.

Want to be a runner and not have to deal with frequent/chronic injury? She said you should be doing the glute bridge exercise and be able to hold a plank for 60 seconds. And maintain those goals. Both exercises will keep your core strong and stabilize your hips during running; in turn it will keep Runner’s Knee and low back pain away. Sold. Sign me up!

I wanted to share what I am currently doing to improve my body. So far the exercises seem to be helping a lot!

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge exercise might sound familiar to you. It’s a yoga move and common in PT. There are so many benefits to this exercise but the biggest one for me is that stronger glutes fix my runner’s knee. Period. It also helps stabilize your core and helps alleviate low back pain. I’ve been given this exercise before but in the past, even though I did it diligently, I never really felt a difference. I mentioned that to my therapist and she suggested this variation:

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One simple change– doing it on your heels instead of with your feet flat– made a HUGE difference for me. Suddenly I FELT the exercise in my butt and glutes when I did it this way. This is now the only way I do it. And I feel it after I’m done, too. It’s important to engage your core, tighten your glutes and hold them as you go up and down. If not, you’re not getting the same benefits. I love this move. I feel it the next day! I also found a website with examples of other variations I may try in the future.

One Leg Glute Bridges

This is a variation of the basic glute bridges the physical therapist is having me do. It’s supposed to be harder than the traditional way, and it is! Here is a short video of the demonstration.

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Like the regular glute bridge, do it on your heel. When I first tried it at physical therapy I was like, Oh holy moly this is a LOT harder. I sure did feel it! My doc said the leg doesn’t need to be straight out (like the above picture), just raised. The important keys: do it on your heels, engage your pelvic floor while you do it, and then make sure your hips are staying level as you raise them. If you’re twisting the raised hip, you’re not getting the benefits. And probably messing up the low back.

One Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve written about this move before. It’s a must for me when I want to keep Runner’s Knee away from my life. It was a regular part of my weight lifting workout for a long time. When I had my back flare up I stopped doing this move (and most weight lifting) and it didn’t take long for my knees to start to act up. :(

When my therapist watched me do this exercise the one correction she made was to have me hold the weight (or kettlebell) in one hand instead of holding two. Then put the free hand on the small of your back as you bend over. This helps you to make sure you aren’t raising/twisting your hip as you bend. I was! Granted I usually do the move in front of a mirror to make sure I don’t twist, but it’s easy to twist and then there’s no point in the exercise because you putting strain on your lower back. Good to know!

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Plank

I know, I know, love/hate relationship right? Planks suck. They are hard. But when you finish doing them you feel accomplished! My therapist suggested doing the plank on the elbows instead of hands (it will be harder that way) and to make sure that you are engaging your core muscles while you hold it otherwise you are putting pressure on your low back. Especially if your back is sagging in any way. I see that a lot in the gym–people doing a plank (side plank, traditional etc) and they are sagging. Do it in front of a mirror if necessary to hold it!

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Clam

This exercise is one I’ve been given for pretty much every running injury I’ve gotten. This move is supposed to help strengthen your hips. I didn’t always like it because I never really “felt” it. I tried it with a stretchy rubber PT band and that helped a LITTLE bit…but still, didn’t really feel it when I did the exercise. Recently my therapist suggested I try a different way to do it. I hope I can describe it properly…

So same position as the photo below (minus the band). Except instead of having the knees and feet touching, she had me raise the higher leg so it was parallel to the leg resting on the floor and THEN do the clam move. So the legs aren’t actually touching as you do the move, but you’re still doing the same form. If that makes sense? Okay, if it does, good. Because this variation was much better! I could feel the exercise doing it this way.

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So far it’s been working. I think the combination of the standing desk and doing the PT exercises during my workouts on a regular basis have helped my back AND my knees! I also started doing the cobra/up-dog yoga stretch after each set of kettlebell swings. It helps a lot!

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Jul 142015
 

On Saturday I hit the gym early for some reason. It wasn’t crowded, which was nice. I did weights (I’ve been adding pull-ups and chin-ups to my routine lately!), my physical therapy exercises and body weight exercises and then went for a run on the treadmill. It was one of those runs that was FABULOUS. Where I didn’t feel the need to walk, that I felt like I was too slow and sped up the treadmill and my legs just wanted to RUN. It was a fantastic 2.75 miles and then I walked down the stairs in the gym and all of a sudden my knees were like “we are not HAPPY!!!!” It wasn’t good. :( Despite that my knees were doing okay, as long as I didn’t go down any stairs…I burned 646 calories! Wowza.

Michael and I went to the Mississippi Street Fair next. It’s been about two years, I think, since we’ve been. Of all the street fairs in Portland it’s my favorite. I like the vibe and there’s a bunch of different stages with different kinds of music playing. It’s always crowded, so be prepared. This year it wasn’t quite as crowded as it was in the past, so it was slightly easier to walk up and down the street checking out the booths.
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First stop: LUNCH. We decided to bag street food and went straight to a restaurant. Little Big Burger. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been there. I like that the burgers are not ginormous. I got a cheeseburger and we split an order of their AMAZING to-die-for truffle fries.

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We wandered around and saw some of the booths (lots of arts and crafts and jewelry) and there was music everywhere. I’m not sure what this instrument is but it was fascinating to watch.

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Does your cat need a bowtie? I think it might! I almost got Fat Kitty a bowtie (this photo kinds of looks like him!) but I knew he’s never let me put it on him and would either a) give me the grumpy cat face or b) immediately take it off and destroy it in a rage. :)

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We walked around a little bit and met up with some friends. Our friends that came over for the 4th of July were hanging out doing the kid stuff (bouncy house) so we hung out with them for a little bit.

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Michael got two t-shirts and I got one (I will wear the shirt soon and post a photo–it’s so Portland). I ALMOST got a Sasquatch bumper sticker. Almost.

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We left our friends and met up with some other friends, who also have a daughter the same age as Rowan (2.5). It’s such an adorable age. We walked up and down the length of Mississippi with them and looked at the booths (she got a Kimchi Hot Dog for lunch which really fascinated me–I might need to try that combo soon). I bought a jar of kimchi from the hot dog vendor (can’t wait to eat it!). Then we ended up at Ecliptic Brewery.

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It was a cool, modern, high-ceiling and concrete floor and walls kind of a place with a ton of outdoor seating. Our friends ordered some food and drinks. The Orbiter IPA was a really smooth, balanced IPA. It SMELLED like a super strong, hoppy, intense bouquet of citrus and it smelled like it was going to be a face punch IPA, but once you took a drink it wasn’t like that. It was very mellow, which was kind of odd. Our friends shared their appetizer order of deviled eggs with us. They were topped with a sardine, which I didn’t eat. They assured me that it was the best part but…yeah, no thanks. I love deviled eggs, though!

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After hanging out drinking and talking at Ecliptic we realized it was pretty late in the day and walked back to the cars. Check out Charla’s super awesome cobalt blue shoe in this picture:

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Somehow it seems fitting with the Willy Wonka quote and I don’t know why. :)

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Sunday

I went back to yoga!!!

I hadn’t been since March when my back went out. One of the moves that hurt the WORST with my whole back issue was downward dog. As I continued with my healing and did physical therapy, downward dog was still something I couldn’t do at all. It was a benchmark for me. I periodically checked to see if I could do the stretch and for months and month, not at all.

I decided recently it was time to give it a try again. I tried downward dog at the gym one day as a stretch and didn’t have the immediate, searing pain in my low back so thought hmmm, maybe it’s better? I decided on Sunday I’d give it a go, with the caveat that if it hurt, I’d leave the class. I warmed up with the elliptical and then went to yoga class.

I spent the majority of the class subbing child’s pose for downward dog. I did to downward dog a few times in class, and it was just fine!! But I defaulted to child’s pose just to be safe. The rest of class went really well and I was able to do most of the stretches in class and I was SHOCKED to find that my balance hadn’t decreased after months off. I’m guessing that the combination between doing the One Leg Romanian Deadlift for my knees and all the core work I do with physical therapy for my back have maintained my balance (thank goodness!).

There were a few rotations in a lunge that felt not fabulous but overall it was a great class.

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After class Michael and I went and saw Jurassic World! I was so looking forward to seeing it. I knew it wouldn’t be as good as the original, of course, but I had high hopes. Then…I started hearing from people it wasn’t great. I was disappointed and dragged my feet in seeing the movie but we finally had a free afternoon so I caved.

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How was the movie? It was okay. It was fast-paced and had some exciting moments. There were definitely a lot of cheesy moments that made you groan but they’d switch gears pretty quickly so you didn’t have time to dwell on the cheesy for too long. Overall it was a decent action movie. Just don’t try to compare it to the original too much and you’ll enjoy it.

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