When I titled this post “quality over quantity” I was referring to physical therapy, but I do believe it applies to running too. However, over the past few weeks I have been really slowing down and making sure to do my exercise correctly, while trying to engage all the correct muscles and focusing on my breathing.
Honestly, sometimes this is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. There are some days when it would be SO much easier to just go through the motions and get it done. But that’s not how change happens. And that’s probably why I have done all the strength/core/hip work over the past few years but still get hurt.
I’m not saying this is the answer to it all. However, at some point I had kind of a lightbulb moment when I realized that I wasn’t necessarily focusing on all the correct muscles when I do my exercises. There are a few things I have started doing that I think have helped:
1) Go slowly.
Rushing through them won’t help. My PT said to do 15-30 minutes of the exercises every other day, so rather than trying to get through all the exercises he has taught me, I pick a few and make sure I am doing them correctly.
2) Focus on the muscle you are supposed to be working.
For everything I do, my mental cues are to think about my foot stabilizing, my glutes engaged, and my core engaged.
3) Make sure that you are able to engage the correct muscle before getting into the harder stuff.
I always start with floor work and some days I’m like “where is my core?” like I literally can’t feel what I am supposed to be doing. I’ll use my hand to draw my attention to where I should be working until I start to feel it on my own.
4) Close your eyes.
It may sound strange, but I find that I can engage my muscles better if I close my eyes and think about it. Maybe it’s because I am no longer distracted by things around me? Who knows. This only really works for floor exercises, but sometimes if I’m doing a balance exercises I’ll try closing my eyes for a few seconds just as an extra challenge.
5) Use a mirror and take off your shirt.
There is no better way to really remind yourself to engage that core than to see it right there in front of you. I work out alone in my basement so I am ok with this, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a gym. Try doing planks in front of a mirror without a shirt on- all of a sudden you are engaging that core like never before.
That was kind of a whole post in itself, but I’ll end with a quick rundown of last week’s workouts:
Monday: PT exercises and 2.2 miles
Tuesday: Total body strength training (weights)
Wednesday: PT exercises and 2 miles
Thursday: Total body strength training (TRX/Bosu)
Friday: PT exercises and 1.5 miles
Saturday: A few PT exercises/core work and 3 mile run
How do you make sure you are engaging the correct muscles when you do exercises?
How were your workouts last week?
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