ANIMA SANA IN CORPORE SANO (ASICS): The Greeks believed in a “strong mind in a strong body.” They believed to be truly fit, you must be trained from all angles, inside and out.
To be a good runner, it takes far more than running alone to get you in shape. Also necessary are: good nutrition; sufficient sleep; strength through alternate exercises; and limber muscles that don’t fight back.
Back Pain: If you suffer from lower back pain, there’s a 90% or better chance that this is the perfect illustration of muscles fighting back.
I’ve suffered from lower back problems ever since I was a child. Throughout my life, at least every few months (sometimes every few weeks) my back would go into spasms and bend me over like Igor in the horror movies.
Following “popular wisdom,” I performed a series of strength building exercises for my stomach and back. These muscles got tremendously strong. Did this help my back problem? Well, actually not.
With far stronger back and stomach muscles, when my back went into spasm, the pain was worse than ever.
About four years ago I decided to give the problem some real thought. What was it about my lower body that seemed to be at variance with the norm? Ah ha!
All my life, my hamstrings had been extremely tight. Could this be putting undo stress on the lumbar region?
In the past, I’d performed toe touches, which loosened the hamstrings for awhile - unfortunately, they also sometimes caused my back to go out.
What to do, what to do? I finally developed a series of hamstring and quad stretches that could be performed while lying in bed. Voila!!!!!!
Ever since I began performing these stretches, before arising in the morning, my back has refrained from attacking me. However, I can’t miss a morning! If I miss a morning or two, the back starts to feel “iffy.” It’s now been over four years since my back has gone into spasm - and it used to go out every few weeks.
If you have a back problem, e-mail me and I’ll be delighted to send you the stretch routine I’ve been using.
Balanced Leg Strength: Running tends to develop strength in the quadriceps (front of the thigh) while doing little to develop the hamstrings (leg biceps). This strength imbalance can result in cramps and muscle pulls.
Experiment shows that to avoid the various problems associated with short, relatively weak hamstrings, exercises should be performed that will loosen, lengthen and develop hamstring strength to approximately 50% of quad strength - if you can lift, for example, 100 pounds with your quads, you should be able to lift 50 pounds with your hamstrings.
The exercises to develop quads and hamstrings are performed on a leg extension/leg curl machine.
Balanced Body Strength: To perform at peak efficiency, I believe the entire body, both upper and lower, should be developed into a harmonious whole. There are a wide variety of interesting resistance exercises that will help you develop this harmony.
If you are interested in taking part in a balanced strength and conditioning program, using graduated weight resistance, I’d be glad to help you get started. Just email me your question, and I’ll come to the rescue.