Thursday, February 19, 2015

Injury prevention work- the 2015 edition - part 2.

Continuing on with my series, I'll focus on my daily routine.  This is my OCD stuff - the stuff that I try to do EVERY single day, regardless of sickness, travel, fatigue, etc.  They're not draining exercises, so they don't take much out of me exertion wise, though they do take time.

As with my pre-run routine, they focus on my specific issues, including ankle instability, tight hip flexors, and weak feet.

The daily stuff:

Ankle strengthening: Developing my ankle strength and proprioception is a continuing battle.  My biggest exercise for this is my wobble board, which sits in my kitchen.  I have a workout of "4x1:00" programmed into my Garmin (named "balance board"), with the Garmin helpfully buzzing me at the
conclusion of each minute.  I stand atop my balance board with both feet equally spaced, and rock the board back and forth for one minute.  Then side to side for one minute.  Then round the world, tapping at 12, 3, 6, and 9 on the imaginary clock face for a minute before reversing the direction and going round the world the other way for the final minute.

That's my default exercise - done at least once and hopefully twice each day.  I will supplement or substitute sometimes by using a stretchy elastic band to work my ankle.  I loop the band around my mid foot and a solid structure, and then perform inversion and eversion exercises with each foot - I do 4 sets of 10 reps each foot, split as 10 reps each of eversion with foot pointed, eversion with foot flexed, inversion with foot pointed, and inversion with foot flexed.  Then repeat on the other foot.  I try to do this one once or twice a week in addition to the wobble board, but will also use this to substitute for the wobble board when I travel - the stretchy band travels much better than a wobble board.

Another exercise I do from time to time for my ankles as a sub or adjunct to the wobble board is closing my eyes and balancing on one foot - I'll cover that more in part 3 of this series.

Foot strength:  Here, I'm focusing on both my general foot strength and my big toe strength.  Each day, I try to spend 2 minutes each foot either a) scrunching up a washcloth with my toes or alternating pressing my big toe and my four other toes into the floor ("toe yoga").  Either exercise travels well, and the towel exercise works very well for multitasking - do it in the kitchen while cooking something in the microwave. 

Toe yoga can also be done during boring meetings, preserving foot fitness and sanity via muscle contraction.  Eyes closed balance also works well for general foot strength (though perhaps not the best choice for entertaining oneself during a meeting).

Hip Flexors:  I try to dedicate about 10 minutes a day to a combination of two stretches, each of which was also described in part one of this series.  One is the couch stretch, the other is the kneeling hip flexor stretch.   Each day, I'll do one exercise for 3 minutes each side (timed on my Garmin), and the other for about 90 seconds each side.  Why so long?  Because that's supposedly how long it takes to cause an actual long term lengthening of the tissue (if repeated consistently).

Foam rolling:  Yup.  Though not specifically an exercise, it's something I do everyday.   The amount I do varies from day to day, depending on how much time I have, what else I've done that day, and how I'm feeling.  I have a wide variety of tools - including a range of rollers from very soft to hard and spiky, plus sticks, balls, and oddly shaped devices - which ones I use depend on what I'm doing that day.

I view foam rolling as an exercise that benefits me in the long term, but does place additional stress on my muscles in the short term.  For that reason, I keep the rolling gentle and brief on my hard workout days - using my softer rollers.  On those days, my muscles have already done a lot - I foam roll gently to improve circulation and encourage recovery.

Most of my collection.
Someday I'm going to start a companion Tumblr account,
entitled "Recovery Tool or Marital Aid?"
On other days, I'll go a bit harder - digging into my tight spots.  I start with my softer roller to warm up, and then move to the firmer rollers before shifting to the individual devices - a tennis ball for my glutes/piriformis, the R8 Roll Recovery for my quads, adductors, and hamstrings, the TP footballer for my calves, and the Stick for my shins.  And a golf ball, Footrubz, or foot roller for my feet.  I'll also use the Triggerwheel (my absolute favorite device) for targeting muscle knots, especially in my posterior tibialis or peroneal.

Obviously, I can't take this all with me when I travel.  If I'm traveling very light, I make do with a softball (can sub as a foamroller in a pinch), the Footrubz, and the Triggerwheel.  If I have a bit more space, I'll also take the Stick, a short foam roller, and/or the Roll Recovery.

Next week, I'll go into my strength building exercises.


  1. That roller collection. Holy smokes.

  2. I think you are making wonderful strides. Working slowly day by day will certainly make you stronger and help you avoid any unnecessary injuries. Good for you! I also do some stretching in the morning to ensure I don't over-strain my muscles throughout the day. Thank you for the awesome update! I wish you all the best in an injury-free future!