Monthly Archives: April 2013

  • Is Static Stretching the best for flexibility?

    Many things that you may have been told in grade school gym class have been proven to be not only wrong, but dangerous. One of those is the issue of stretching. This is not an article on why some forms of stretching are more desirable than others, but an article on one method of healthy and effective stretching.

    Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is very similar to dynamic stretching. AIS is often done seated or laying down, while dynamic stretching is often done standing. AIS focuses on a single muscle group and isolates it. Dynamic stretching may hit more stabilizer muscles due to the dynamic nature of the movements. Both are active movements in that muscles are moving the limb, it is not being pulled into a position, such as with static stretching. The key here is that, for example, your anterior shin muscles are dorsi flexing the ankle and toes, this induces reciprocal inhibition in the antagonists behind the foot, such as the soleus and gastrocnemius.

    Flexibility is about relaxing, not lengthening.

    Different from static or ballistic stretching, which takes the muscles beyond its typical range of motion and may induce the stretch reflex, which is a muscle contraction in response to overstretching. When a muscle is lengthened beyond it's range of motion, the muscle fibers can contract and resist the stretching. This is a protective mechanism.

    As a side note, this stretch reflex may also be the cause of many cramps athletes experience during hard race efforts. If a cyclist's saddle is too high or their crank arms too long, that may overstretch their calves during the downstroke, which can cause the calves or hamstrings to cramp in an effort to protect the muscles from this overstretching. Another example could be suddenly racing or running on a different type of course profile, such as going from flat training to a hilly race. This sudden change, and being at race effort, could cause the the muscles to cramp to protect themselves.

    But back to the topic at hand! An example of reciprocal inhibition can be seen in the classic sit & reach, which you see below being performed standing by one of SKORA's ambassadors. The first test is after no warm up, note the distance of "flexibility". Next he moves into a front squatting position for 30 seconds. This activates the anterior muscles of the legs and relaxes the posterior muscles. You will then notice that the next sit and reach is suddenly farther than the previous attempt. How is this possible? Nothing was physically stretched or lengthened?! What happened was relaxation of the posterior muscles by activating the anterior ones, with the squat. See, flexibility is not about long muscles, it's about relaxation! In fact, it takes 20-30 minutes of constant stretching to physically lengthen a muscle!!

    Why is this important to runners?

    Because as speed goes up, so do two characteristics of the running gait. Cadence and stride length. If you cannot increase the distance of each stride, you will not get faster. Part of this is being able to bring your leading leg forward/up and your trailing leg down and back. When athletes run slower than their habitual pace, their legs do not move forward and backwards as much, almost a shuffle. However when they run faster than their habitual pace, the legs move much much more. Dynamic flexibility and reciprocal inhibition allow this to happen. You cannot bring your leading leg forward and up if your hamstrings and glute muscles will not relax! Just as you cannot lengthen your stride out behind you if your hip flexor muscles will not relax and allow that foot to reach back behind you!

    Below are the Active Isolated Stretched routines from Dr. Phil Wharton. It is good practice to perform these either all in one go, or broken up throughout the day in 10 minute chunks, multiple times a week. Once you go through the videos a few times, the movements can be done solo in half the time. It's important to note that he uses a rope as well as his hands to help guide the movements. He is not forcing the limb beyond its regular range of motion.

    Foot & Ankle

    Part 1

     Part 2

    Part 3

    Hip, Trunk, Back, Legs, Net

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Further Reading: Is Stretching Before Running Bad? Static Stretching is Bad For You![Study] Wharton Health

  • "Run for Boston" 26.2

    Run for Boston

    The date was Monday April 15th 2013, and it started off like any other day. I woke up, headed to class and had the Boston Marathon webpage pulled up on my phone. I knew a couple people running in the event and wanted to track them throughout the day. One of my buddies finished up in the 2:50:00 range while the other came in just over 3 hours. Once my friends crossed the line, I returned my full attention to classroom activities and turned off my phone. As class got out I thought I'd call my coach who is also good friends with one of the runners. I got in contact with him and with a eerie tone in his voice said "have you seen the explosions? Turn on your T.V... I have to go man, I'll call you later". I immediately turned on the T.V. and was glued to it until I fell asleep.

    Bombings take place quite often in today's day and age. However, you don't expect it to take place in the United States and you absolutely don't expect it to take place at a marathon. As I watched in horror, the event struck me all too close as my family has been along the finishing chute in racing events. As I laid there in bed, wondering what I could do, the only thought that came to mind was to run. I figured that the run had to be something special as this situation was like nothing I'd ever seen. That night I decided I'd run the full distance these fans went to watch. I'd run 26.2 miles for the victims of Boston.

    I woke up on Tuesday April 17th and put on my shoes. I packed a backpack with water and 3 cliff bars and looked out the window. I saw that in the lovely city of Denver, it had decided to snow 6 inches the night before. To be honest, I briefly thought about calling off the run. I then looked in the mirror, became disgusted with myself, and headed out the door.

    At the 3 mile mark I had accepted it would be a long day as my longest run in the past 2 months was an 8 mile run. By mile 6 I had leg fatigue already setting in. At mile 9 I was questioning if I wanted to do an 18 mile run and then another 8.2 at night. I made it to mile 15 and was 1 mile away from home, I took one step in the opposite direction and was off for another 11. By mile 20 my legs shared the pain only duplicated in my Ironman Triathlon. Mile 23 saw a lot of walking with miles 24 and 25 being brutally slow jogs. I finally crossed my finish line at mile 26.2 and stood there for a couple minutes to recover. I walked home the final .25 miles and thought back on my run, the victims, and what running means to me.

    There were many thoughts that passed through my mind during the run.

    Thought #1: Each time my legs felt fatigued I kept returning to the same mantra. "When your legs get tired, run with your heart". How selfish could I really be to stop running at mile 3, 6, 15, or 20? There were victims that lost not only their limbs, but also their lives. No matter how bad something hurts, we most always remember how fortunate we are for the opportunities we have day in and day out.

    Thought #2: Runners are a family. While we all go home to different settings or work in different fields, we all share the same hobby and love. Its the love of stepping out the door and not knowing what you will find. Sometimes you will find blissful sunsets which release your runner's high. Other times you will struggle brutally and be left walking back home. No matter the outcome, we are each better for having gone through this journey.

    Thought #3: While the bombings are awful and make me sick to my stomach, there is still change for the better that happened because of them. While out on my run I was greeted by many motorist with waves and honks followed by thumbs up. My pride during this run was something I can't put into words. It showed me that no matter your name, age, sex or affiliation, we are all runners....and we are all one.

    I set out on this run trying to bring attention to the victims of the Boston bombings. I can only hope that my running has inspired others to get out and run. With that being said, this run left me a changed person. While I set out to help, I myself was given something. These victims without even knowing it brought our community together and showed me that it is not about times or distances... But rather, its about being able to take that first step out the door and experience the open world and all it has to offer.

    Live life to the fullest, get out the door, and Run Real. Derek Dalzell

  • SKORA Base Giveaway!

    Men's Health SKORA Base


    Thanks to all those that entered the contest! Keep an eye out for our next one!


    Winner List 4.24.13 - @CovDawgUF on Twitter 4.25.13 - Amy O from sharing this post 4.26.13 - Tim R on Facebook 4.27.13 - Josh L on Facebook 4.28.13 - Justin G from sharing this post 4.29.13 - "E" from sharing this post 4.30.13 - SeeSharpRun1 on Instagram 5.01.13 - @michellelash on Twitter 5.02.13 - @RunRunJohnny on Twitter 5.03.13 - Ray Jackson by sharing this post 5.04.13 - Mecca Cerney by sharing this post 5.05.13 - @micahdavideo on Twitter 5.06.13 - @djrussc on Twitter 5.07.13 - Jenny O by sharing this post 5.08.13 - Michelle by sharing this post 5.09.10 - Maria H by sharing this post 5.10.10 - @AthensNewbie on Twitter

  • The specifics of "Run Real"

    The Specifics of "run real"

    I recently received the Spring/Summer 2013 line of SKORA running shoes, and was very excited to see that my favorite brand had taken their already outstanding models one step further.

    Because of the rejuvenation I felt in these updated shoes, I was inspired to employ their brand motto of "Run Real" to training applications that every runner can follow.

    Read below to see if you Run Real, and I hope you find these tips valuable to your upcoming spring and summer races! Read More

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