Some days, running sucks. Yesterday, my running buddy and I (the adult one) together with our 3 kids under 2 and Miss Oakley headed out on what should have been our longest run of our training program for the Harbor Half. Well, sometimes life disagrees. We were both tired, she was fighting off some serious allergies and Little M was a total WRECK. Throughout the 7 miles that we actually managed to cover (before calling in a rescue from running buddy's hubby and his truck - BLESS HIM) we picked up bottles, pacifiers, ipads, fruit snacks and shoes from being thrown on the ground. We cleaned up a bloody mouth after Little M bumped it on the stroller. We walked. A lot. We "moooo-ed" at lots of cows. We stopped and did reset and tried to pretend we were just starting. None of it worked. It wasn't our day. It's hard to be ok with "failed" runs sometimes but I'm trying to stay positive. We still covered 7 miles, our kiddos are all happy and healthy back at home and we got to spend the morning outside. I'm kind of bummed that we have to try for 10 again next week, but I know things will be better. They will they will!
Now, that little rant doesn't have much to do with what I was planning to post about today, except for that after that fiasco I would have KILLED for an hour of silence on a deep tissue massage table. But alas...I headed home to copious amounts of coffee and my trusty foam roller.
In a perfect world, we would all be able to head into an athletic training room after a tough workout and get iced down, maybe get some massage and do some rehab exercises. Or...in an even MORE perfect world, we would get to go to weekly massage appointments at a spa! Alas, we don't live in a perfect world. Most of us can't afford to hit the massage table regularly and when we're injured, it can be tough to make time to get to a physical therapist regularly! Since I rarely get to enjoy these luxuries, I've realized that a lot of what I need done to stay injury/pain free can be done at home! As I've been increasing my running mileage, I have DEFINITELY been putting these little tools to good use!
Today I'm going to share with you my little home-rehab-gym that YOU can create for LESS than $20! Yep. That's less than 1 appointment with a pro!
Now, I'm not discounting the effectiveness of professional massage therapists, body workers, physical therapists - if I could, I would probably live in their offices! I just can't access them all the time, so this is the next best thing!
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Here's what you need:
1 foam roller
3 tennis balls
1 old long sock
1 golf ball
1 medium sized playground or foam ball
Ribbon or tie
Soothing essential oils + Roll-on Bottle
Alright - the foam roller is hands down the biggest (but BEST!) investment. You can find them anywhere from Walmart to TJ Maxx to your sporting goods store. I found this one on Amazon. Mine is only 12 inches long and was under $10. You don't have to get the super long ones! Here's an old post of mine that demos some great foam rolling techniques! COST: $10
And what's with the old sock? Well, first of all, it doesn't have to be old. But the point is you probably don't have to buy a sock just for this. We all have a single sock laying around right? Place 2 tennis balls into the foot of the sock and tie it off so the balls are snug into the bottom of the sock. This is a little different version of a foam roller. It's perfect for rolling out your back or shoulders! I like to stand up and put this little tool between me and the wall and let in massage between my shoulder blades. COST: Less than $2
The tie or ribbon is another thing I know you already have at your house. You could even use a long towel. The purpose of this is to be a stretch-helper! Hook it under your foot while you're doing lying hamstring stretches, or work on chest and shoulder flexibility with this stretch. COST: FREE!
The golf ball is another really cool little massage tool. You can roll on it, but it is very small and dense so it can be really intense. My favorite way to use it is on my arches! It's a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis or to relieve tired, achy feet. Just put it under your arch and give your little tootsies a golf ball massage! It feels SO GOOD! You probably also have an old golf ball laying around, but if you don't you can a pack of 3 for $1 at the dollar store. We're not looking for quality here - so get the cheap ones! I found mine in the bottom of my husband's golf bag! COST: $1 or less
The playground ball is a great one for strength/rehab exercises. Squeeze it between your knees during pelvic tilts/bridges or between your knees for stabilization during squats. You probably have this laying around, but if you don't, you can get them for $1 at the dollar store! COST: $1 or less
The bucket can be used for a few things. You probably have a bucket around that will suffice, but in case you don't you can find one like this for $3.50. (Probably even cheaper if you hit up your local discount or dollar store).First, you can use it as an ice bucket. For injuries like ankle sprains, getting ice on it is really important in the first 24 hours. Put some cold water in the bucket (a mop bucket will do!) and add several cups of ice from your freezer. Ice for 15 minutes at a time every hour or so for new injuries.
The other thing is for an awesome foot soak. Runners will love this one. Fill the bucket with warm water, put a cup of epsom salts ($1/bag at The Dollar Tree!) and 1 drop of soothing essential oils ($0.38/drop) for the ultimate in foot relief! This can also be done in a tub for a full body soak!
COST: $4.88 or less
Making and using a roll-on bottle of essential oils is another really cost-effective way to relieve muscle tension throughout your day. Fill a little roll-on bottle ($0.42/each) with a few drops of soothing essential oils, and fill the rest with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Use on sore muscles throughout the day! For more info on my favorite essential oils, join my Facebook group! COST: $2 or less!
TOTAL COST: $20 (or less!)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, physical therapist or medical professional. I do not intend to give diagnose, treat or give medical advise. Please refer to your doctor in case of injuries and rehab protocol.
How about you?
How do you take care of yourself at home?
What have you "recycled" in your house to act as a therapy tool?
It's been a little over a year since I went through labor and delivery and all the fun stuff that follows. I feel like it was months before I totally felt like myself again, and I continued to be shocked by the changes that happen in your body after giving birth! I thought it all stopped when the baby came out? Ha! Hormones continue to mess with you and it takes a while for everything to go back where it belongs. I know - a little TMI - but hey, I like to talk about awkward stuff. And you know you all think about it. Except you guys...maybe you should go check out my FUEL page and make something yummy and leave this post for the ladies.
After going through a fit and healthy pregnancy, I really wanted to be able to help other mama's do the same thing but I knew I needed to me armed with more education. That's where my Oh Baby! Pre/Postnatal Fitness Certification comes in! I went through the course this spring and can I tell you, I loved every minute of it! Not only did I get to take notes with my multi-colored pens like I was in high school again, but I learned something new EVERY DAY! I sure wish I had known some of this stuff when I was pregnant! I'm excited to share what I've learned through some blog posts and workouts here on HFF, as well as in my new local class here in South Texas. "Moms in Motion" starts next week and I'm SO STOKED about it!
Today I wanted to share with you the TOP 3 EXERCISES to do in the first 6 weeks after after having a baby. These can be done RIGHT AWAY as long as you had a healthy delivery. Even after a c-section, it's important to start these! There are new studies out saying that new mom's don't necessarily have to wait the 6 weeks to get back to exercise after giving birth. It's definitely important to get doctor's clearance whenever you decide to start working out again, and it's really good to listen to your body too. Whatever you do, do these 3 things right away. I mean hey - #1 can be done in your hospital bed!
#1 - KEGELS KEGELS KEGELS
Also called a "Pelvic Floor Lift". Do these. You hear it a million times while you're pregnant and maybe you do them a few times when you think of it but seriously friends, do them as much as possible. Do them before you get pregnant, while you're pregnant and for the love of cute gym tights keep doing them after that baby arrives! You can even start doing them in your hospital bed, even though it will probably be the last thing on your mind! And if you had a c-section, you may not have as much damage to the pelvic floor but they are still important to do. A strong, functional pelvic floor is really important for returning to exercise, and kegels are the most effective way to train it. Added Bonus: you might not pee your pants every time you sneeze for the rest of your life.
How? Think about a muscle that spans from hip to hip and from your tailbone to your pubic bone. Like a thin sheet across your body. Then think about LIFTING that up, holding for 5 seconds, and then lowering it down. Some people like to think about it like you're stopping your pee min-stream. Whatever example works for ya. Once you've mastered this (it will be HARD right away but keep after it!), then try little flicks...where you lift and lower quickly for 20 seconds. Do both of these versions at least 3x a day. I know you're doing them right now...
#2 - Hollowing Out Your Abs
This is a simple transverse abdominal contraction. When you are pregnant, your abdominal muscles stretch and weaken. A lot. Sometimes they even separate down the middle of your stomach in what is called diastasis recti. It's not fun, but it can be fixed! Your transverse abdominals are the deepest core muscles that run horizontally around your waist. They are super important for core stability and posture.
How? It's easy - but easier said than done. You want to bring your belly button in and up, kind of like you are tightening a wide belt around your waist. Start with holding these muscles engaged for 5 seconds and work up to 20. Do these whenever you can throughout the day.
#3 - Chest Stretches
These were the ones I noticed I needed A LOT after Little M was born. Once you have that tiny little baby in your arms, you don't often put them down. This causes your shoulders to round forward. Add in breast feeding all day/night and heavier breasts (it's true, come on), and your posture is just screwed. I remember my upper back hurting so bad! Doing chest stretches regularly will really make big difference!
How? My favorite way to stretch my chest is in a door frame. Raise your hands to about the level of your head , like you're making a "W" in the air. Then rest your hands in a door frame and gently lean your chest and body through the door. Your hands will end up slightly behind your shoulders. You can also do this 1 arm at a time, putting your arm up at a 90 degree angle and resting your forearm on the side of the wall. Then turn your body away from the wall while holding the stretch.
I have to add one extra exercise in here - walking. You can start walking as soon as its comfortable for you and your Dr approves. This is the one thing that I really attribute my speedy weight loss to. Start with a walk to the mailbox and back, and add on gradually. Those walks not only will help you gain your fitness back, it's a great chance to get some fresh air when we can often be holed up inside with a new baby.
Disclaimer: I am a certified personal trainer but I am not your doctor. I do not give out medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before starting post-partum exercise, or doing any of the workouts on this site.
How about you?
What is the one piece of pregnancy/baby/childbirth advice you wish you knew before you had a baby?
It's a fact - I'm a bit of an injury plagued runner. The problem is, I usually know the reasons why, and I still have a hard time preventing injury! The fact that running while pregnant didn't agree with me actually was a blessing. I had been dealing with overuse injuries for over 6 months prior to getting pregnant, and a good 9 months of rest helped everything heal! Since getting back into running, I really want to avoid those same injuries again. I think I've finally straightened out my shoe/achilles tendonitis problem - Hello Brooks Ravenna! But now I'm on to the one that challenges me the most: my teeny tiny puney booty.
Yes, the calves, quads and hamstrings all play a role in being a strong runner, but so much of your power and stability come from those glutes! The gluteus medius specifically really should be engaging while running to help stabilize your hips and hamstrings and it often DOESN'T. Because I have a super weak butt, my other muscles (mainly lower back and hamstrings) do the compensating to keep me cruising along. Then in comes the pain. So you say, what's the solution? Get a strong booty and learn to activate it while running!
I know, I'm the trainer, I know what the problem is, I know what the solution is, so why haven't I done it? I DON'T KNOW! I do glute exercises here and there, but never enough to really make a difference. I've noticed in my last few runs that I'm definitely not using any butt muscles, and I'm already feeling the consequences in my hammys.
So that's it. I'm going to do it, I really am. I have put together a circuit of dynamic strength and glute activation exercises to do before EVERY run. I am also going to be more diligent in working glute strength moves into my workouts. The key is to not only get those muscles stronger, but then to get them firing before a run so they actually do some work. I'm hoping that this time I can really stay consistent and make a difference in my running. Besides preventing injury, there are also the "side effects" of becoming faster and having a better looking butt! Now maybe THAT will motivate me!?
Today I want to share my pre-run booty boost workout. These are even great exercises to do mid-run if you're feeling imbalanced. I have been known to do them at stoplights! Once I get a good strengthening routine down I will share that one too.
a breakdown of each move . . .
#1 - Hip Swings - The goal here is to get really loose in your hips. Swing one leg in front of the other while keeping balance on a wall, car or post. Keep your leg straight but relaxed and work to get a big range of motion out of your hip.
#2 - Curtsy Lunges - Like a curtsy, you will tuck one leg back behind the other while squatting down. Get your butt way back and go as low as you can. Keep you chest up as well. I do all of these on one side, keeping one foot planted and swinging the other behind for 15 reps. Then switch sides.
#3 - Deep Squats - With a medium stance, start standing tall, and then sit WAY back and low. I like to reach towards the ground in the warm up to stretch my back a bit too. I always explain this by saying you want to pretend there is a chair way behind you and you are reaching your butt back to land in it.
#4 - Charlies Angels Lunges - These are fun but super challenging when you first start! Go into a static lunge with your front knee over your ankle and a 90 degree angle on your back leg. Be sure you have your balance here. Keep your arms together, straight and in front of you the whole exercise. Then, rotate your upper body towards your back leg, opening your hips and turning your back knee. Use your glutes to pull your body back to the starting position with your hips in line.
Extra Bonus - I try to do a few passes in the driveway of high knees and butt kicks too.
As always...stretching the glutes, hamstrings and quads after running is important too.
My favorite glute stretch is the pigeon!
how about you?
Does anyone else have issues strengthening their glutes?
Or know what they need to do to rehab an injury but just don't do it? Please tell me I'm not the only one.
Disclaimer: Although I am an AFAA certified Personal Fitness Trainer, you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet. If you choose to do any workouts on this website, you do so at your own risk.
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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I am not a licensed medical professional. All views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult your doctor with any medical issues before beginning a training program.
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