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Three strategic self-care moves pay off with better training and performance.

It’s easy to focus on the big muscles when it comes to running. But there’s no question that some attention to assessment, breath and the complex of muscles that control our hip function can improve performance and liberate our potential. Jill Miller, self-care expert and creator of “Treat While You Train,” presents moves to help you get the most from your run.

To get started, you’ll need one Alpha Ball.

Deep 6 Release with Alpha Ball

Equipment: one Alpha Ball

The gluteal muscles tend to reap all the glory when we talk about running strength and issues. But often the deep external rotators of the hip are loaded with trigger points and dysfunctional tension. These six muscles are the piriformis, quadratus femoris, gemellus superior and inferior and obturator internus and externus. This simple, sustained compression move helps to alleviate that tension. When you give the lining of your glutes some help, it will add a huge spring to your step.

  • Sit on a chair and place the Alpha Ball between glute and sacrum – just outside of coccyx, sit so ball can slide and move tissue upward
  • Sit on the ball and breathe, allowing sustained compression to do the work for two to five minutes.
  • Switch sides.

Race Pace Breath

Equipment: none

I went to college in Chicago and spent four years walking the roads along Lake Michigan—and some of my classes were a mile away from where I lived. Those walks were long and cold and sometimes boring. To help occupy my mind and increase my body heat, I would practice yogic breathing techniques. Years later I learned that these breathing techniques are used by elite runners.

  • Breath in for a pace of four steps, hold for four, breathe out for four, and hold that exhalation for four steps.
  • Add arm movements. Raise your arms on the inhalation and hold, then lower them down on the exhalation and hold.
  • Play around with the ratios and the speed of your walking. Let the pace of your walking determine your breath.

Buns for the Run

Equipment: none

Bridge positions are some of the best moves you can do to improve your buttock strength and stabilize the pelvis, which is your fundamental base of support. It’s hard to generate equal force on both sides of the pelvis when there is an imbalance in strength. This move will help you to identify which buttock is weaker, and help build strength at the same time.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Activate your abs so your spine is braced, and then activate your gluteal muscles and lift your hips into a bridge. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
  • Lift one foot an inch off floor, and feel the opposite glute working to keep your hips stable. Set your foot down and then lift the other foot. Notice which glute seemed to be working harder to keep your hips up—that’s the one that you’ll want to strengthen.

Photo & Video credit: Todd Cribari, inspirostudio.com
Hair and make-up: Mariah Nicole, mariahnicole.com