BUILDING A FOUNDATION

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I used to not bother with lower body training- I figured as a runner I didn’t need to do any more work on my legs and butt, BUT (haha) it was probably one of my biggest ever training mistakes and left me wide, wide open to injury. With my pronate ankles and rolling-in knees, the extra work on my glutes and outer thighs has helped no end in protecting me from further damage.For my lower body strength sessions I’m currently using Jillian Michaels’ Killer Buns and Thighs. It sounds a bit dumb, I’m not a fan of the title, but I am a fan of the routine (and Jillian Michaels in generally, love love love, but we’ll go into that another time).  I read a lot of commentary that her workouts can be pretty tough on the knees, and it’s definitely true if you’re not super careful. I’ve actually found that Jillian incorporates a lot of different exercises that I encountered during my post ACL reconstruction physio. Obviously, these exercises are a long way from those designed for immediate post-op patients, but the movements certainly fit on the progression of movements and exercises I was using about 9 months post-op. So I’m finding a lot of value in the work out for more than just getting myself a set of ‘killer buns and thighs’.As a person who DOES suffer from dodgy knees (and just as a savvy exerciser in general) I’m always an advocate for impeccable form. I’ve found the key with all of my training is to take it small and take it slow- focus hard on getting the movements right from head to tippy-toe, engaging the core and maintaining good posture (a post on my ugly rounded shoulders coming soon…). It can feel a bit tedious sometimes and is always much harder work but the results are well worth it. I’m never afraid or ashamed to modify each exercise, if it feels like it might be doing me harm, I take a step back. There’s always a way to modify for knees or ankles that aren’t quite ready, whether it’s taking smaller hops, using both legs instead of one, or even just stepping through it.

For the vast majority of athletes as well as us active mere-mortals, building strength and stability to withstand impact is vital. From pounding the pavement to skiing park, impact happens, it’s ALWAYS going to be hard on your body, so it’s important to protect it by putting in the groundwork. I’m a fully converted strength training snob- I don’t enjoy it much, but it’s now kept me in a RECORD BREAKING (fingers-crossed, knock on wood) 6 weeks of injury-free running, and I can’t stop thinking about how much MORE fun skiing powder’s gonna be when I don’t feel like my thighs are about to rip open…

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