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Essential off season leg stability work

Joint issues are very common among endurance athletes, but the good news is that you can dramatically reduce your chance of getting those kinds of injuries! Strengthening weak muscles, stretching tight ones and relieving muscle tension should become not just an off season, but year round mantra of anyone who doesn’t want to get injured.

STRENGTHEN
Most joint injuries are a result of muscle instability. That means that certain dominant muscles are much stronger when compared to weaker opposing muscles or weaker stabilizing muscles. If this happens, then joints like hips and knees get yanked too much in one direction by the stronger muscle.  The weaker muscle groups are not able to do their job resulting in the inability to counter balance and pull the joint back into alignment.

For knees and hips specifically, working your abductor and adductors are two essential injury prevention exercises. There are some other popular and essential strength exercises like different types of lunges, single leg squats and single leg deadlifts, but always include abductor and adductor work to your routine. The preferred method is for people to do the exercises on cable machines like the videos below show. But, if needed, you can do these with stretch cords anchored to a wall or bar. 

How many? Well, if you have never done something like this before, then start with 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg for about 4 weeks and then add another set to make it three. Or if you are really time crunched, then use this exercise as your warmup for leg day and do one set of 15.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT, AS SOON YOU AS YOU CAN, YOU BEGIN TO LET GO WITH YOUR HAND AND LEARN TO BALANCE ON YOUR SUPPORTING FOOT. A BIG PART OF THE STABILIZING AND STRENGTHENING GAINS YOU MAKE ACTUALLY COME FROM THE STANDING FOOT AS WELL. YOU WILL NOTICE THAT YOUR STANDING LEG BECOMES TIRED AND BURNS BEFORE THE WORKING LEG.

STRETCH AND RELIEVE TENSION
There are numerous resources that have effective stretches. There are now multiple videos, online channels and books on stretching and Yoga for athletes. These are great because they show you poses that you can do when you are tired and don’t need any more strength or power work. Make sure to choose restorative and stretch oriented routines so you can just relax and stretch. Even a short 25 minute routine once or twice a week is effective to helping your body unwind.
 
MOBILITY 
For relieving muscle tension and knots and creating more mobility in your muscles and joints, you either need to have a really good sports massage therapist you see once or twice a month AND/OR you use something like a rumble roller, massage balls or a  Trigger Point Therapy kit. 
Oh and, this quick video demonstrates the yoga stretches that target specifically the adductor/abductor muscles we are concerned with today. ACTUALLY, you will have to just do what this video says and then drop your leg the other direction as well (across your body.) to get both sets of muscles.
So, just remember that injury prevention should be a staple part of your year round program. Happy strengthening, stretching and relieving of muscle tension!

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