Do You Hate Running? Try Running In Reverse!

Ever since I was a kid, I never liked running. I didn’t mind playing a game of tag or running to a base during a kickball game, but when it came to long distance running, I never excelled… I flat out stunk at it. Friends of mine today keep telling me how they are preparing for different races, and all I can think about is how I can’t even stay on a treadmill for 10 minutes without wanting to pass out. I have tried entering races, running with friends, and even running with my dog, but I still can’t keep up. I have always wanted to reach that ‘runners high’ people talk about when they can just run for hours and just enjoy it, but no matter what I do, I have not been able to find a method that works for me… Until now!

Backward running
It may sound crazy, but one day at the gym, I decided to put the treadmill on a low speed and turn around. I started jogging backward, and eventually after a few mintues I was able to bump up the speed and pretty much run in reverse. I will admit it felt weird at first, but then I really started enjoying it. None of my joints were hurting, I wasnt running out of breath too quickly, and I was finally able to run for over 30 minutes without having any issues.

Now what are the benefits to running in reverse?
According to the New york Times Well blog and studies done by the University of Milan, running backwards can be easier on your joints, can help with muscle therapy, burn more calories, and increase balance. When running forward, a person puts a lot of tension and hard pounding on the knee joint. When running backward, however, there is much less hard pounding since our muscles and tendons act differently and instead of landing on our heels and taking off our toes like most people do when running forward, when running backward we land through our toes. Running backward also burns more calories because of the muscle and tendon activity. When running foward, we rely a lot of the motion and effort on the elastic energy in our muscles and tendons. When in reverse, this energy is not present, so we exert almost 30% more energy in order to run backward at the same speed. Our muscles are activated in order to stabalize our bodies in the backward motion which also helps improve our balance when moving both foward and backward and helps burns more calories.

When first implementing backward running, make sure to start off slow. It is a new motion for your body, and will take a little time to get used to. I currently only run backward at 4.5 mph on the treadmill to ensure safety, but also feel the benefits of the exercise. Trust me, after running backward for a few minutes, your calves and quads will be burning!

Try this exercise out and let me know what you think. Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for any questions, comments, feedback, or ideas for future topics to discuss.

To view the New York Times Well blog article on reverse running, Click Here.

Reverse Crunch (with Stability Ball)

A few days ago, I posted an exercise I frequently do called the Reverse Crunch. That exercise is great for core strength and toning, but when I am at a gym, and there is proper equipment around, I like to mix things up a bit. This following exercise is the same as a Reverse Crunch, but you use a stability ball to add some difficulty. The stability ball adds a small amount of resistance, and it also forces you to use better form. You must tightly squeeze your abdominals in order to lift the ball from the ground and it also does not allow your legs to sway too far from a proper position.

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 1


Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 2

To perform a Reverse Crunch with a Stability Ball:

    1. Find a stability ball that allows you to rest your legs on top while creating a 90 degree angle at your hips and your knees (your calves and feet will be resting on the ball, parallel to the floor).
    2. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    3. Place the Stability ball under your calves, resting against the back of your hamstrings. Your knees should only be a few inches apart.
    4. Squeeze your abs and legs in order to lift the stability ball slightly off the floor (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the right).
    5. While squeezing the stability ball, raise your knees to your chest.
    6. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the right).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 15 reps).

Tips:

    1. Just like any serious ab exercise, control is important! These motions do not depend on momentum, but rather slow controlled motions that engage your muscles.
    2. If this exercise is too difficult, I recommend starting with Reverse Crunches without the Stability Ball. I give step by step directions on how to perform this exercise here: Click Here
    3. Notice that when lowering my legs back down to Position 1, I try not to let the ball touch the floor; this will keep your core activated the entire exercise. If you need to take a break mid-exercise, lower the ball to the floor completely, and when ready, lift the ball off the floor again.
    4. Another possible variation of this exercise, that I find a bit easier to do, would be to have your knees further apart on the ball. The wider your knees are from each other, the easier this exercise appears to be.
    5. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest (from Position 1 to Position 2), and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    6. Squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your entire core.
    7. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, DO NOT hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, and depend solely on your abdominals to perform this exercise.
    8. You will notice that it is common for the ball to slip from your legs during this exercise. Try your hardest to keep it in place. If it does move, simply use your hands to get it back into a proper position and continue the exercise.
    9. Stability balls come in all different sizes. Try to find one that allows you to make a 90 degree angle at your hips and knees, letting your calves and feet lie parallel to the ground while resting on top of the ball.

Let me know what you think of this new variation of the Reverse Crunch. I hope you like it! If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Reverse Crunch

For this blog, I like steering away from conventional situps and crunches because those are exercises I have done for years and almost everybody has tried a basic situp or crunch. Although they definitely still help strengthen your core, I would like to give you some workouts that you may not have seen or tried before to help amp up your core workout routine.

This following exercise is a Reverse Crunch. It targets your core very well and when done correctly you can really feel the squeeze in your abdominals.

Reverse Crunch -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch – Position 1


Reverse Crunch -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch – Position 2


To perform a Reverse Crunch:

    1. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    2. Raise your knees to create a 90 degree angle at your hips and at your knees, leaving your feet parallel to the ground (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the left).
    3. Pull your knees in towards your chest.
    4. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the left).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 25 reps).





Tips:

    1. Controlled motions are needed for this exercise. Do not depend on momentum to get our legs up and down. Engaging your lower abdominals to raise your legs and activating your entire core to perform slow controlled motions is how you will see and feel results.
    2. BREATHE!!! Your breath during this exercise will help activate your muscles. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest, and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    3. Make sure to squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your core.
    4. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, do not hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, that way you will have to depend strictly on your abdominals to perform this exercise.

I hope you like this new exercise. Let me know what you think. If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com