Alpine Physical Therapy: Exercises to Increase Strength and Power

Summer is here and race season is underway! The daylight is here earlier mornings and staying later in the evenings, making it easier to get out and enjoy the beautiful trails and scenery of Missoula. The evening sun is wonderful and getting out after a long day of work for a run always feels good, just check out the Tuesday night track workouts at Dornblaser field at 6:00PM and see for yourself! The Pengally Double and Single Dip is just around the corner as well as the Ten Spoon 10 K, two great races in the month of June for you to put your training to the test. This month Jamie and I are going to be upping the ante again, building on last month. These exercises are hard even for us so don’t worry if they are difficult for you as well (you may see a couple grins in the videos as we try to keep good form)! This month the exercises will focus on increasing strength and power, while incorporating the all-important hip and core stability. For those of you who love running hills, want to get better at running hills or get a little faster, the exercises this month will help you with that! The exercises are getting more difficult and your library of exercises are increasing. If you have been keeping up with our progression substitute the new exercises in for the old ones, if you think you are ready, we are not wanting you to add each months’ set of exercises on top of each other. Do not add all the exercises from every month into one workout. Once again, all videos will be linked to a Youtube page for you to view as needed. A brief introduction of each exercise is below and more information will be on the Youtube page. Step Up to Lunge Combo: This exercise is a one-two-punch to get your strength and power in your legs to hit the hills! It brings in all the concepts we have been working on since our first videos, core, balance, gluteal and quadriceps strength. To set up this exercise you want to find a step that puts your thigh about parallel to the floor (if you are not able to keep good form start with a smaller step and work up to a higher one). Put one foot on the box (we will say right leg to make directions easier), keeping your pelvis level and maintaining hip, knee and foot alignment. Your left foot should be a couple inches back from the step. You can use a slight forward lean but keep that neutral spine position. Push up from the right foot, trying to keep the pressure equal around the foot (forefoot, heel, outside and inside). Maintain your leg and pelvis alignment. At the top of your step bring your left leg up to a height of thigh parallel to the floor and hold 2 seconds. Slowly bring the left leg down and back off the step, controlling your body down with the right leg. Once your left leg touches the floor, bring your right leg down and step in back into a back-step lunge. You can see the video from last month if you need a refresher on the back step lunge. Once to twice per week is enough and pending your ability 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. Box Jumps: I love a classic. The box jumps are a basic exercise but really great to build power and all you need is a box or step. Find a box that you feel comfortable jumping on to if you have not jumped in a while or if you have one that is challenging but safe. Stand about a foot back from box. Set your core and go into a mini-squat with your arms down. Explode up pushing through your toes, swing your arms up (helps with getting momentum) and not letting your knees go in. (If your knees go in better get to working the hips with some lateral leg lifts or monster walks!) Land on the box as softly and quietly as you can sinking into the landing by absorbing impact with your hips (see Jamie’s great landing on the high box). Step back from box and down to the ground. Try for 3 sets of 6-10 reps once per week in race season. Plank: Here you go, the next step in the plank exercise series. This is one of the best exercise to build inner core strength and endurance. Starting from a hand and knee position, you want to find neutral spine and set you inner core. Squeeze your gluteal muscles and raise up onto your feet. This typically puts you in a body position that you have your trunk parallel to the ground and legs angled. You want to drop your pelvis down so you form a straight line. Using a mirror is helpful to get your body in alignment. You want to hold that position until you feel fatigue through your abdominal muscles. Try to hold between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Your total time of work shoulder be between 2-4 minutes pending on your endurance and if you have done this exercise before. An example of how to do sets would be: Hold plank for until fatigue sets in (we will say 60 seconds), rest 45 seconds, hold plank until fatigue sets in (50 seconds), rest 45 seconds….repeat this for a total work time of 2 minutes if you are new and up to 4 minutes if you are more experienced. Two times a week is enough for this exercise. Side Plank with Feet Stacked: An upgrade from the side plank on knee we put on back in March. Being on your feet is quite a bit harder. I like to see people holding the knee plank for 60 seconds before bringing them onto their feet. The setup is nearly the same except the feet are stacked. Keep your arm under your shoulder, not above it. Keep tension in your abdominal muscles and you should feel tension in side of your butt that is facing toward the floor. Make sure you are not twisted in your trunk, typically your shoulder up top twists toward the floor and pelvis will rotated up, just line them up. Use a similar method as the plank series for your sets and rest. Try to hold a total time of 2-3 minutes on each side. It is fine to alternate sides as well if you notice your shoulder is getting tired. Lateral hops: This one brings power and balance to the monster walks. Most runners have weakness in the muscles on the outside of the hips because they are always running straight. That weakness over time leads to a lot of different aches and pains. Strengthening the outside of your hips can help prevent some of these issues. You will get set in the core and I like to do a little forward lean with my upper body (the same position I run in). Start small and hop side to side maintain your leg alignment and keeping your upper body in the same starting position, trying not to let your body shift over your leg. Absorb the impact through your hips and legs not by leaning the trunk. Try to get 8-10 hops in with good form to start in 2-3 sets, try to build up your repetitions to 15 for 2-3 sets. Try to get in once to twice per week. Keep up all the hard work! Matt Schweitzer, DPT, OCS, CSCS Jamie Terry, DPT, SCS, CSCS Alpine Physical Therapy, Downtown. Located in the Peak Health and Wellness Center 150 E. Spruce St. Ste. A Missoula, MT 59802 Phone: 406-549-0064 Fax: 406-543-2999