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Running

Strength exercises for canicross athletes - module 2

Canicross athlete and physical educator (CREF 014891 G/RJ) Willian Oliveira from Brasil has set up a canicross specific training program for you and the athletes in the Non-stop dogwear International CaniX team. This is the second step of his program.

If you have not worked through the first step yet, you find the seven basic strength exercises for canicross athletes here

Exercise 1 - Diaphragmatic breathing

You should lie down with your knees at 90 degrees. The hip and thigh should also be at 90 degrees. The torso must be straight. Try to have no space between your lower back (back) and the floor. Push your back on the floor and keep your head in line with your spine.

You should put your hands on your knee: This is our progression point for this exercise. With your hands on your knees, you should push your knees using your arm and an equal amount of strength with your legs. Challenge yourself; the more power you put in, the more effective the exercise will be. 

- Being in this position, the exercise will be easy: Inhale deeply from your abdomen and without moving your chest. With this progression, it will be a little more challenging to keep your lower back touching the floor, so pay attention to that. Make the air go to your belly and push it towards your hips, sides of your belly, lower back and abdomen that will be contracted because of the strength of your arms against your legs. To exhale, release the air between your teeth by applying pressure and exhale firmly. This will help the diaphragm to become stronger after doing this exercise frequently.

Do this for 1 minute and repeat 2 times.

Exercise 2 - Mobility

This exercise will be changed later on and used in another mobility exercise for the ankle.

The beginning of the exercise will be in a position with focus on 4 points. The hands should be straight under the shoulders with the arms extended. Knees straight under the hips, knees are flexed and feet straight behind. 

Lift your hips, stretch your knees and legs, and try to touch your heel to the floor and return to the starting position

Start with two sets with 12 repetitions.

A golden tip: Do not exclude exercise number 2 from the first workout, it will be useful for the next progressions!

Exercise 3 - Core strength

We are going to put movement in this progression.

- I said earlier that this exercise is very important for canicross practitioners. In addition to the movement of the trunk that will go up and down, we will spread the legs (hip abduction - you can use a mini band above the knee to increase the load) in this progression.

Lie on your stomach. Do your best to get the most of your body off the floor, arms and legs extended. Your eyes should be directed to the ground and not forward. At the same time, you should spread your legs (hip abduction). 

- If you can, for each repetition do the movement with the arms of I-Y-W-T and return to the starting position. Otherwise, just raise your body and spread your legs.

Do not forget your breathing. It should be done as following: When going up, breathe in. As soon as your arms go down (or backwards in the I-Y-W-T position), push the air out.

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.

- With this progression you will strengthen an important muscle for stabilizing our hips during the race; gluteus medius. It helps your hip to stabilize the femur of the lower limb that is on the ground during the run by not allowing your knee to make an inward movement (Dynamic Valguism). This movement must be eliminated because it causes injury. 

The next exercise requires activation of this muscle in its progression. 

- If your knee makes the unwanted movement inward, do not make this progression until your hips are stronger and continue performing exercise 6 of the first module. If you have a large elastic band, you can use it to strengthen your hips even more, not allowing your knee to make the unwanted movement. 

Both versions are shown in the video.

Exercise 4 - Coordination

 The fourth exercise will increase the difficulty in the movement pattern.

- In the kneeling position, inhale (using the breathing technique of the first exercise making only a short inhale), and move the right side. Use your left arm to copy the running movement. Take another second short breath in, move your other leg and try to stand up on this leg and move the opposite arm. 

This is the critical moment where you should pay attention to your knee's movement; when you are supported only on one limb. 

- Remember that there will be two brief inspirations for each step and only exhale at the end of the movement.

If your knee moves inwards involuntarily, use the elastic band attached somewhere by pulling your leg inwards. This will cause your middle gluteus to be activated. This way, it will work better again.

Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 5 - Core, hamstrings, torso

We will continue using the big ball, but if you don't have it, you can use aa towel to perform the exercise.

If you have a big ball:

The starting position will be done with your legs on the ball and your hands on the floor, straight under your shoulders. Pull the ball under you by flexing your knees, but your hips should remain at the same height. Use the breathing technique from the first exercise, increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. It will make it easier to stabilize the hips and lower back during the exercise, and when returning to the initial position, push the air out. Inhale when pulling the ball in and exhale when you return to the starting position.

Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Exercise 6 - Lateral stabilization

This exercise serves to strengthen the gluteus maximus, so that you gain more power in each stride in the race. 

- You can use a mini band or do it without. Remember to contract the gluteus maximus as much as you can.

Lying on your stomach with the elastic next to your ankle, you do a hip extension. Remember that the hip has to stay on the ground. The knee is not allowed to flex, and the foot is always pointing downwards. 

- Always contract the gluteus as much as possible. 

Inhale by pushing the air into your belly whenever you perform each repetition and when you return the limb to the starting position, exhale.

Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 7 - Feet

- This exercise is the second golden tip. Did you know that pain in the tibia, in Brazil we call it cannellitis, haunts many runners and canicrossers? This simple exercise decreases the chances of having it at some stage of your training.

Sit down with legs stretched and an elastic band attached to a low point. Put the elastic band over your foot and pull it towards you by doing dorsi plantar flexion. 

- The biggest mistake is to move the foot back and forth while contracting the toes. The correct way is to relax the toes and simply pull by moving the ankle. 

If you don't have an elastic band, you can do it without. 

Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Stay tuned for the next module! 

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