HEAVY DUTY

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

Step aside, clamshells. New re­search1

sug­gests heavy-load re­sis­tance ex­er­cises may be more ef­fec­tive at strength­en­ing the glutes than body-weight ex­er­cises such as clamshells, bridges and leg lifts. Study au­thor Petr Stastny says it’s about match­ing the forces ath­letes en­counter in their sport. ‘Ex­er­cises such as squats and dead lifts (pic­tured) can be heav­ily loaded, mak­ing them prefer­able to sin­gle-joint re­hab ex­er­cises,’ he says.

Putting on a good spread Your toes, that is, not din­ner

This month, po­di­a­trist Ni­cola Blower (walkrite.co.uk) ex­plains why mo­bile toes are a good thing.

WHY DO IT? To assess the strength of the mus­cles that sta­bilise the big toe, lit­tle toe and me­dial and lat­eral arches. ‘Arch sta­bil­ity is just as im­por­tant as core sta­bil­ity,’ says Blower. ‘If th­ese mus­cles are weak, the foot can be­come un­sta­ble, putting pres­sure on ten­dons, lig­a­ments and fas­cia struc­tures.’

THE TEST With your foot on the floor, try to spread the big toe and lit­tle toe away from the other toes. If you can, try to move each of th­ese toes in­di­vid­u­ally.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Can you spread the big and lit­tle toes out to the sides at all? If so, can you move them side­ways with­out lift­ing or curl­ing them at the same time? If you can’t move them, or only if you move them up or down as well, the mus­cles are not func­tion­ing op­ti­mally.

HOW TO IM­PROVE Sit with your feet out in front (legs sup­ported) or flat on the floor and fo­cus on mov­ing the big toe and lit­tle toe of one foot out­wards with­out lift­ing or curl­ing them. Hold for 10 secs, then work the other foot. Prac­tise for 3-5 mins a day. ‘Each time you ask your brain to do this, the neu­ral con­nec­tion to the toes will im­prove,’ says Blower. To progress, place an elas­tic band around your toes and spread them against it for more re­sis­tance.

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