Getting the body to move efficiently is a vital component when training or preparing for competition. Small imbalances caused by tightness can lead to large imbalances or other muscles taking over, if they aren’t worked on.
Think about the following example.
If you had a tight right hip and went on to do 100 body weight squats in a training session it’s likely that other parts of your body will be forced to compensate for the tightness that your hip has created. Generally, this will lead to tightness in muscles associated with the movements, and in this case that may be your lower back, hamstring or knee.
What can we do to prepare our body to perform?
This simple three-step process offers an easy way to look at it:
- Release work – Using a roller and trigger ball
- Lengthening the muscles – Through dynamic stretch and flow movements
- Activate the muscles – Using a glute band and a roller
1. Release work
To assist in moving efficiently, a great first step in your prep for training is to release the muscles you’re going to use. Using a roller and trigger ball are great ways to target your tight muscles. When using the roller, you can be more dynamic with your release work. Example areas to rollout are your upper backs, quads, hip flexors, and calves.
When using a trigger ball, make sure you focus on pressing the weight of the trigger ball through your muscles. Stay away from any bony areas. Example areas to trigger are your QL (lower back), glute and hip flexor. If you don’t have a trigger ball a good substitute is a tennis ball, cricket ball or baseball.
2. Lengthening the muscles
Once your muscles have been released, we can focus on lengthening them through dynamic stretch movements. The big areas to focus on are your lower back, hip flexors and hamstrings. If these areas are tight, they become very difficult to activate.
There are two sequences shown below. The first has a big focus on opening up the hips and lower back. This is a good sequence to use before any lower bodywork or running. The second sequence focuses on opening up the upper back and chest, and is best to use before doing any upper bodywork.
3. Activating the muscles
Once you have lengthened the muscles you’re using for training, it’s important to then activate them. By activating the muscles, we ensure they’re firing and ready to do the job you need them for. It’s extremely important that your glutes are active as they are what drive your hips and thighs during movement. Active glutes will also take stress away from our lower back and knees. Try the sequence below to get your glutes firing.
Remember to release, lengthen and activate your muscles to get the most out of your training.