Strength and Prehab: The Myrtl Routine

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I grew up with 14+ years of classical ballet training as a child, and my dancing relied on many of the same body parts I do as a runner: hip flexors, ankles, feet, and all of the little tendons and ligaments from my foot to my hip. I’ve said time and time again that I would have been a better runner if I had started when I was dancing, but of course I hated running. The mile run requirement in gym class made me plot sick days. Perhaps if I did start then I wouldn’t worry about having to supplement my training as heavily with outside strengthening work. It never ceases to amaze me how key the little things are in making running possible (it’s not just a calf + quad business).

I do know, however, that exercises like the myrtl routine have set me on my way to becoming a healthier runner. One of my first running ailments was pain and tightness below and around my hip bones during and after a run; spurred from the act of lifting my knees. The hip flexors, the source of my pain, are a group of muscles in the pelvic region and upper thighs that aid lifting your knees and keeping your pelvis and thighs aligned when running. Weak hip flexors can be responsible for a host of other problems as your body compensates, and you can feel pain in your Achilles, hamstring, knees or IT band.

The myrtl routine was developed by Jay Johnson, a coach in Boulder, CO, and it focuses on the “hip girdle.” It aims to strengthen and help provide a greater range of movement in the area. It took me a little longer to run through the exercises when I first started, but once I got the steps down, the whole thing only takes 6-7 minutes. The pdf version of the routine is really helpful in breaking down the movements and number of repetitions, but you can see the exercises in action in the video.

I like to incorporate the myrtl routine in my cool down after a run (ideally two to three times a week) but a friend actually prefers it as a warm-up. As I’ve improved, I added a few more repetitions to each exercise, especially the clams. Since I’ve started, the hip flexor pain is a thing of the past. A few weeks later, I actually forgot there had even been a problem, but I’ve kept up with the routine to keep it gone.

The myrtl routine:

  1. Clams x8
  2. Lateral Leg Raises (5 neutral, 5 toe pointing in, 5 toe out)
  3. Donkey Kicks x8
  4. Donkey Whips x5
  5. Fire Hydrants x8
  6. Knee Circles (5 forward, 5 backward)
  7. Hurdle Trail Leg (5 forward, 5 backward)
  8. Lateral Leg Swing x10 Linear
  9. Linear Leg Swing x10
  10. Linear Leg Swing (bent knee) x10

Have you tried the myrtl? If you haven’t yet, do you think you’ll give it a try?

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Weekend Wrap-Up: Home in Ohio

Hi! I’m linking up with Tara at Running ‘N’ Reading again for this week’s weekend update. 

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Happy Monday, everyone! “Happy” anything is my go-to greeting, but I feel like it’s a little harder to feel on a Monday morning for those reading this from their desk at work after a great weekend. I’m flying back to DC this afternoon from Ohio and still have a little over a week to enjoy before starting my research assistantship and jumping back into a regular schedule (also known as learning to train before and after work like a normal person). I’ve been spoiled with the time to see my family and enjoy DC since returning from Italy. Here’s a little of what this past weekend was like…

As you know, I flew to Ohio last week, and due to the short-notice nature of my trip, I had to fly out of Baltimore for the cheapest flight. I took an Amtrak train from Union Station in DC to BWI, a bus from the BWI train station stop to the airport, a flight from BWI to CLT in Charlotte, another flight from CLT to DTW in Detroit and finished it off with the 50-minute car ride down to Toledo. Let’s just say I was thrilled to be home, especially since my seat mate traveling to Detroit was exceptionally rude to the flight attendants, and it infuriated me to no end. It takes so little to be kind! At least I had the latest copy of Runner’s World to keep me company 🙂

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Friday was all about celebrating my twin siblings’ 17th birthday: complete with a morning wake-up call with cake, lunch out during the school day, a screening of The Avengers, and dinner out with the family.

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As you might have read, my plans for a run through my neighborhood Metropark was cut short, but I took full advantage of the bike trail on Saturday afternoon with a nice 11-miler. When I was hurt last summer and took a break from running, I was a champ on a bike, powering up hills and through the city center, but I have lost that kind of stamina. My legs were definitely not used to working some of those muscles, but that’s what made it so worth it. I cured my antsy-ness, gave my legs a rest from high impact-exercise, and I got to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors.IMG_3606

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My mother is in full-gardening mode right now, and the garden will be blooming in no time at all. It’s amazing how luxurious things like front and backyards feel after leaving the city for a weekend. DC isn’t lacking greenery, but a grassy yard of any sort is a rare site.
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Leaving you with a little Monday morning inspiration:

“Artistic discipline and athletic discipline are kissing cousins, they require the same thing, an unspecial practice: tedious and pitch-black invisible, private as guts, but always sacred.”

— Leanna Shapton

How was your weekend? I’d love to hear about it!