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Category: injury rehab

Podcast Ep 77: Glutes, Glutes and More Glutes with Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong

Let’s get to talking about a part of our body that is often neglected — our glutes! Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong is supercharged about women firing up their entire glutes (especially that gluteus medius) in this fun, chatty and oh-so-i nformative episode. Courtney began her journey after giving birth to her second child. During […]


Let’s get to talking about a part of our body that is often neglected — our glutes! Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong is supercharged about women firing up their entire glutes (especially that gluteus medius) in this fun, chatty and oh-so-i nformative episode.

Courtney began her journey after giving birth to her second child. During that time, she experienced depression while struggling to get her body back in shape despite her background in Pilates and personal training. It was then that she turned to exercises focusing on extension versus flexion — and that brought her the “aha moment” that changed her entire workout focus. (She is seriously all about the glutes, folks!)

With research, she discovered that it’s the glute supporting the pelvis that’s the key to core health — instead of abdominal work only. So get ready to rock out those squats and planks, people! Honestly, even if you have no interest in giving birth, the advice she gives in this episode is going to change how you work out from now on!

Here are a few of our fave quotes …

Podcast Episode 77 Highlights With Courtney Wyckoff

  • How strengthening your core is about more than doing crunches
  • Why she decided to work in the pre- and postnatal fitness field and what has changed in that category over the years
  • How to tell if you have “dead butt syndrome”
  • How to do a potty squat (video on how to do it, here!)
  • The idea of a woman’s body as a “container” and how to best maintain it
  • Her version of a 2018 kegel (brace those abs!)
  • Defining diastasis recti, plus what can be done about it after giving birth
  • Her personal glute routine she performs twice each day
  • What she means by saying glutes are the “surfers” of the muscle groups
  • Why motherhood is an “action sport”
  • Her plans for her upcoming Cheeky Tour
  • How to hold a baby the right way (it’s different than you think!)
  • Her thoughts on waist training, postpartum braces and wrapping
  • The kinetics of the perfect plank position
  • Her top advice for avoiding injuries
  • Plus, we FBGs talk about our favorite glute moves — and Kristen puts Margo and Jenn to shame!

Get the episode with Courtney Wyckoff here or below!

Get more info on our podcast here and be sure to subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode!

How do you like to work those glutes? —Margo

Want to sponsor the show? Yay! Drop us a note at advertising@fitbottomedgirls.com and let’s make the world a healthier place together!



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Common Running Injuries (and Water Workouts to Try While You Heal)

Today’s post comes from Melis Edwards, author of  Deep End of the Pool Workouts: No-Impact Interval Training and Strength Exercises — and you might recall that she shared a great pool workout with us last year. Melis has more than 30 years of experience as a running and triathlon coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor and athlete, and […]


Today’s post comes from Melis Edwards, author of  Deep End of the Pool Workouts: No-Impact Interval Training and Strength Exercises — and you might recall that she shared a great pool workout with us last year. Melis has more than 30 years of experience as a running and triathlon coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor and athlete, and has participated in Ironman distance triathlons as well as the Western States 100-mile endurance run. She holds a Master’s Degree in Health Promotion, a Bachelor’s in Health Education, and several teaching and training certifications. And she’s got some great tips for workouts runners can do to overcome common injuries.

Runners like to run — plain and simple. From trails to city streets, races to social runs, they look forward to their feet hitting the ground. I have been a coach, trainer and athlete for years and I can tell you, the kiss of death for a runner (or really any passionate athlete) is an injury.

Runners hear the words “no running” and cannot imagine what they’ll do instead. This leads to what I have seen over and over again through the years — people running on injured body parts when they shouldn’t. I seen runners limping from plantar fasciitis or an ankle sprain, bent over with poor posture from tight hips or weak core muscles, bands strapped on their knee suffering from iliotibial band syndrome or patellar chondromalacia, you name it.

What gives? Do they not know how to rehabilitate properly? Or are they so set in their ways that they are not open to other possibilities? On multiple occasions I’ve suggested an injured athlete crosstrain or work with a physical therapist and been met with skepticism.

Well, I used to be a skeptic, too. I thought I could work out my injuries without assistance. However, over time and injuries/accidents, I realized I could heal faster and stay injury-free longer with the right assistance.

So, if this is remotely sounding familiar to you or someone you know, consider entering the world of water training. It’s a serious mode of rehab and cross training for any sport, but especially for runners because it can help strengthen and stretch a runner’s body with low (or no) impact. In deep water, the runner experiences a complete open kinetic chain motion with zero impact to joints, and even in shallow water, the buoyancy means that ground force trauma is far less than with land-based movements.

I’ve listed a few of the most common running injuries I see, along with the workouts I suggest for rehab. Your first step, though, should be to consult with your physical therapist or doctor so they can guide you to exactly what you should do on your own. Then, you can ask them about pool training as a rehab choice. I co-authored my book (Deep End of the Pool Workouts) with a physical therapist (and amazing friend of 30 years), Katalin Wight, and these workouts have her approval.

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain can take a few days to many weeks of rehab. You’ll experience pain, swelling, instability in walking, so being in the water with little to no joint impact can help you get back into the running game.

Try: Hopping. Hopping in the shallow-end of a pool will help with getting the ankle strength back. Remember, the more underwater your body is, the more buoyant you become, so start your hops when you are in the pool at about chest level (or about 70 percent buoyant). Perform the hops one foot at a time with a straight leg, but soft knee joint — the power shouldn’t come from your knees, and instead, rely on your ankle/calf by using ankle plantar flexion to hop straight up and out of the water a few inches then allow the foot/ankle to dorsiflex fully to land back to a flat foot.

Next step: The higher you hop out of the water, the more ankle flexion comes into play. If the rehab is going well, try hopping from side to side to work the medial and lateral ligaments. Start off with light hops, as the lateral motion will put more force out the medial and lateral aspects of the ankle region.

As your ankle strength improves, you can increase the effort by moving into more shallow waters or hopping at different angles.

Plantar Fasciitis

Suffering from plantar fasciitis (PF) means the tissue on the bottom of your feet are inflamed, and you can experience anything from weakness to debilitating strains. PF can last for a few weeks or for much longer, and it’s often worse in the morning, feeling better as you move throughout the day.

Try: Water Running. Use of the deep end of the pool and a hydro belt to ensure you are keeping your body perpendicular with the floor of the pool and with your head just above the water’s surface. In addition, the belt will allow you to control your efforts.

When water running, your legs move through a full running stride, but it works your muscles very differently than on land. It promotes flexibility of the ankles and works the calves, both areas in need of attention when addressing plantar issues.

Water running. Credit: John Winnie, Jr.

Piriformis Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or Tight Hips and Hamstrings

If you have piriformis syndrome, you may have experienced tightness/pain of this small muscle on your upper aspect of your gluteal region. When inflamed, it can aggravate the sciatic nerve. If you’re suffering IT band syndrome, you might feel a slight tightness on the outside side of the knee, which goes away once you start running. Tight hips and hamstrings — which often come paired with back pain — are common complaints among runners, especially those who sit at work all day.

These injuries are lumped together because the rehab that can be done in the pool for all of them can be similar. The one difference is that, if you’re dealing with more hip/back pain, you’ll want to slow the movements down and emphasize the stretch and mobility rather than power of the exercise.

Try: Water Walking. As with the water run mentioned above, the following strokes require the use of the deep end of the pool and a hydro belt. Water walking promotes full torso engagement, hamstring strength and flexibility, and engages the gluteal muscles especially for the outward swing of the leg. Think of a water run, but rather than have the leg move directly beneath the body, the leg moves from that same forward lengthened position and migrates laterally in a short arc to finish almost in the same spot a regular run would finish (behind the runners body). The muscles of the hamstrings and glutes should power the movement and the leg movement is countered with the upper body and arm swing on the opposite side.

Water walking. Credit: John Winnie, Jr.

Try: Cross Country. The cross country is another broad, sweeping stroke which can open the hips, increase range of motion while building strength in the quads, hamstrings, abductors and piriformis. The Cross Country is a reciprocal stroke, with the leg movement forward being equidistant and balanced with the leg movement to the rear. When the leg moves to the forward stroke, this promotes hip flexion and quad strength, a slight dorsiflexed foot working the tibialis anterior and stretching the calves, and lengthening the hamstrings. When the leg moves to the rear position, the hips are extending with the gluteals engaged.

Maybe you’re not experiencing any of these injuries right now, in which case, congratulations! But let me offer an idea. This season, why not heed some advice and try a deep water cross-training method before you get injured, especially if you know you are prone to these typical running injuries. Whether it be shallow or deep water training, the replication of running on land can be achieved and water can be your go-to for a healthy running season! —Melis



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A Workout From the Bench

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been on the bench. I’m on the injured reserve. I’m showing up in street clothes to the big game. And, obviously, I am not thrilled. via GIPHY (Accurate AF, Julia. You truly get me.) I managed to separate my pelvis at the gym — how exactly, I don’t know, and no, I’m […]


Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been on the bench. I’m on the injured reserve. I’m showing up in street clothes to the big game.

And, obviously, I am not thrilled.

via GIPHY

(Accurate AF, Julia. You truly get me.)

I managed to separate my pelvis at the gym — how exactly, I don’t know, and no, I’m not pregnant (even though, as Erin learned a few years back, it’s a common injury for women who are expecting because your hormones are relaxing all your ligaments and tendons and stuff). I can legitimately say that it’s the most severe pain I’ve ever experienced, and although my chiropractor quickly moved things back into place, plenty of damage was done. Recovery is similar to what you’d do for a bad ankle sprain — rest, ice, gentle movements to keep it loose, and time.

However, it’s worth noting that the seemingly gentle, easy exercises I’m doing are … well, my booty is sore! And yes, I’m coming at this from a less fit place than usual, but I figured it was worth sharing what I’ve been up to because we all get injured from time to time, and it’s nice to find something that gives us a bit of a burn, right? So the following is a workout that incorporates some movements that don’t seem to bother me, plus a few of my physical therapy exercises.

(As always, it’s best to warm up first — do what works well for you and feels good, using caution if you’re injured! If it feels good to do more, go for it, and if you need to cut back on reps or time, that’s fine. When you’re trying to recover, listening to your body is key.)

It’s almost funny to look at this compared to other workouts I’ve done and loved, because I truly enjoy pushing my limits and feeling badass and strong. But I never want to experience that pain again if I can help it, so if the experts say give it time, that’s what I’m going to do. And I hope that by sharing this here, it’ll be a good reminder to a few of my fellow badass workout pals that going all out isn’t always the quickest road to your strongest self — sometimes you’ve gotta take it slow and easy in order to get back to where you want to be!

Anybody got a “road to recovery” story they’d like to tell? Maybe something about coming back and being better than ever, or lessons learned? —Kristen



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5 Ways to Keep Your Energy Up When an Injury Keeps You From Exercise

If you’re committed to a regular workouts to keep both your mood and energy up, you may be in for a rude awakening when an injury slows you down. Aside from the frustration of not being able to do your workout, you may sink into a state of lethargy from not frequently moving your body. […]


If you’re committed to a regular workouts to keep both your mood and energy up, you may be in for a rude awakening when an injury slows you down.

Aside from the frustration of not being able to do your workout, you may sink into a state of lethargy from not frequently moving your body.

To keep that lethargy from becoming your new normal, it’s wise to engage in other activities that feed your mind, body and spirit the same way that your exercise routine does, but without aggravating your injury.

Here are five ways to keep your energy up when an injury has got you down.

1. Play Music

Put on a song, but not just any song. Choose something that speaks to you directly so it will impact your mood. Studies have shown that listening to music releases a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain, so you may experience something similar to a  runner’s high when you pop on your favorite Stevie Wonder tune. Add a little movement while you listen, and you just may find yourself dancing — another excellent way to keep your energy up.

2. Eat Clean

If you’re unable to work out regularly, sticking to a healthy eating plan will help you feel better. Eating junk will not only make you susceptible to weight gain, it will also trigger mood swings and energy crashes. While you don’t have to restrict yourself to the point of dissatisfaction every time you eat, you do want to make healthy choices most of the time so that your meals provide nourishment and energy.

3. Meditate

Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, sitting still in meditation allows your mind and body to relax, which restores your well-being. By focusing on your breath and allowing your thoughts to calm, your nervous system resets in a way that is similar to taking a nap. And don’t worry if your thoughts never calm; the act of simply sitting will still boost your energy.

4. Take a Walk

While sneaking in a walk by parking far from your destination or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is always a good idea, you’ll experience even more benefits when you make walking a part of your routine. You may notice that by strolling outside you inspire more creativity in your life as it provides the space you need to clear your head. And now with temperatures dropping, the brisk air will serve as a major wake-up.

5. Exercise

Depending on where you’re injured, you may still be able to participate in a modified workout by focusing on the areas that aren’t hurt. This means if you’re suffering from a twisted ankle, try an activity that you can do seated or lying down (like Pilates) so there’s no pressure on your ankle. You could also do upper-body weight training (like this workout). The point is to keep your blood flowing and to move your body regularly because this ultimately will keep your energy up.

How do you keep your energy up when you can’t do your regular workout? —Elysha



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3 Things My Exercise Injury Taught Me

There are many downsides to getting an injury — you may have pain, you may have to take a break from your exercise routine, or you may have some serious damage to your body. All of it sucks! But what if you chose to see your injury as something more than just a setback? What […]


There are many downsides to getting an injury — you may have pain, you may have to take a break from your exercise routine, or you may have some serious damage to your body. All of it sucks! But what if you chose to see your injury as something more than just a setback? What if you could use the experience as a teachable moment, an opportunity to learn so you can move forward in your life with more insight, even wisdom?

As a hip labral tear has made me rethink the way I use my body, I’m reflecting on the good things that this injury has taught me.

What I’ve Learned From Being Injured

1. To listen to my body. My injury didn’t happen overnight; it came from years of overuse. My body gave me the signs along the way that something was wrong, but I chose to ignore it. So as I was running, and my hip started aching, I ran through it. I always pushed through the pain because I was determined to stick to my workout no matter what. Our bodies know best. When something isn’t right, your body will let you know. It’s up to you on how you will respond. Now, as I go through a rehab program, I’m paying close attention to all the signs my body gives as I don’t want to trigger the injury. So if you notice a little pang of pain in your workout, tune in and notice what your body is telling you. The sooner you start to listen, the more in touch you’ll be, and the less likely you will get injured.

2. To slow down. As a yogi, I was always comfortable with the idea of slowing down — on the mat. But on the running path or during a HIIT session the last thing I wanted to do was go slow. The problem with moving too fast is that often our form gets sacrificed. As our alignment gets sloppy, we are more prone to injury. Now that I am actually injured, moving fast feels rushed. It’s harder to notice the signals when my body is rushing around. Going slowly allows me to be more mindful with my movement, which not only helps heal my injury, but also it keeps me more present in the rest of my life.

3. Nothing is permanent. The situation I’m in now, like everything in life, will change. Currently, I’m in PT for my injury, and that will eventually end, bringing me to a new situation. Whether my hip heals completely and I return to the running track, or I end up in surgery, it’s all just a phase, or season of life. If I can listen to my body and slow down along the way, I’m more equipped to enjoy myself as the seasons change.

How do you deal with injury? —Elysha



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Keep Your Back Healthy With These 5 Exercises

Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and […]


Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and more importantly I feel good.

That was until I threw my back out, and no, it did not happen in yoga. I was bending over to pick up a stick; a freakin’ stick!

The doctor said I had overextended my sacroiliac joint due to an anatomical imbalance in my posterior chain. The sacroiliac joint, or SIJ, is the part that connects your sacrum to the pelvis. (You have two, one on each side of your spine. Put your hands on your low back and stretch to find it.) In laymen’s terms, he was nicely saying that while my core strength and flexibility were excellent (thank you, yoga), my backside could use some work.

Ouch.

5 Muscle-Strengthening Exercises for the SIJ

Balance, as always, is key. The SIJ is a finicky little bugger; it needs to move, but just a little. To hit that Goldilocks zone you need to have strong glutes and hams, good core stability and muscle flexibility, plus hip mobility. In other words, you’ve gotta have it all!

The following exercises are recommended to keep the SIJ stable and in good working condition:

1. Bear Crawls. Reciprocal or alternating movements (like the bear crawl) guarantee that both sides of the body put in the same effort.

2. Glute Bridge with March. If you sit all day, your whole body will love this hip-stabilizing exercise.

3. The Plank. On your elbows or with straight arms, do all the planks to strengthen your entire core.

4. Dead BugThis exercise works on coordination, strengthens the core and corrects muscle imbalance.

5. Squats/Split Squats. Our glutes are the strongest muscles in the body; they surround the SIJ and keep it and the pelvis stable.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and function; it starts in our thirties. Even if you work out every day, you’ll still lose some! It sucks, but it’s a fact of life. It’s estimated that 25 percent of all low-back pain is caused by the SIJ. Work these exercise into your regular routine to keep your back strong and pain-free.

Is your workout routine balanced? Since my injury, I have continued with my daily yoga (the benefits are too great to stop), but have added two days of strength training to my routine and have been pain-free ever since. —Karen



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How to Make Peace With Your IT Band

Of all the nagging pains I hear runners complain about, IT band pain seems to be the most common. To make things worse, it’s one of those injuries that with time and rest goes away, only to return again when you least expect it. I get it. I played this silly game for years. While the pain and frustration may […]


IT band

Of all the nagging pains I hear runners complain about, IT band pain seems to be the most common. To make things worse, it’s one of those injuries that with time and rest goes away, only to return again when you least expect it. I get it. I played this silly game for years.

While the pain and frustration may leave you wanting to curse your IT band, it’s actually not your IT band’s fault that you’re hurting — typically it’s merely symptomatic of a larger problem.

To understand the real reason why your IT band might be perpetually angry, let’s back up a few steps.

What Is the IT Band?

The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick tendon that attaches to your tensor fascia latae (TFL) — a relatively small muscle at your outer hip — and runs down your leg, connecting to the outside of your knee. When it gets inflamed, it typically manifests as pain at the outside of your knee when your knee is bent. It’s often mistaken by runners to be a potential knee issue, but just because the pain is at your knee doesn’t mean the problem is there. In the case of IT band pain, that’s simply where the tendon rubs.

Why Does It Get Cranky?

In some of the milder cases, the solution might be as simple as buying new running shoes to control the amount of pronation (rolling inward) in your feet or not running on a surface that’s banked, which forces one of your legs to be slightly higher than the other.

However, most often, I’ve found the underlying cause to be related to insufficient hip strength and stability. To tell if this might be the case for you, look at pictures of you running, particularly toward the end of a race. Look past the am-I-there-yet grimace and zero in on the positioning of your hips. Notice if one of your hips dips lower than the other. You can tell by looking at whether the waistband of your running shorts is level when only one leg is supporting you.

When one hip dips, the IT band is in a super stressed position — lengthened to maintain your center of gravity and protect the alignment of your skeleton. In my experience, this is usually traced back to laziness in the muscles responsible for controlling the stability of your hips, particularly the gluteus medius and maximus.

If these two glute muscles are asleep, other muscles try to do their jobs. But sadly, no other muscle is designed to be the powerhouse that your glutes are so things farther up and down stream start to get a bit wonky.

Just to make this all even more fun — as counterintuitive as it may seem — it’s totally possible to have the IT band that hurts be on your stronger and more stable side. When your weaker side lacks sufficient hip strength and stability, the stronger side tries to pitch in and help. Depending on the severity of the hip dip, you may find that your “good” side gets angry because it always has to take up the slack of your weaker hip.

How to Make Peace With Your IT Band

To take the pressure off your poor IT band, you need to stabilize your pelvis by getting your gluteus medius and maximus back online and pulling their own weight.

To do this, I recommend exercises that work each side of the body independently. Since running is a one-leg-at-a-time movement, it only makes sense to make sure that each side of your body is responsible for doing its job without being able to rely on the strength and/or stability of the other side.

Here are some of my favorite moves:

  1. Hip Hikes: Stand with your left leg on a step and your right leg directly beside the left leg, hovering off the step. Drop the hip of the right leg as far as possible while keeping your shoulders level and hips squared forward.
  2. Clamshells: Lie on your right side, legs bent at 45 degrees, hips, knees and ankles stacked, heels together. Using your glutes, lift your left knee away from your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis or separating your heels.
  3. Single-Leg Squats: Stand on your right foot in front of a chair with your left foot lifted off the ground in front of you. Press your hips back and tap your butt on the edge of the chair, standing knee tracking over your second and third toes. Use your glutes to return to standing.

Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each move per side every other day. If you notice which side is weaker when doing these moves, I recommend doing a few extra reps on your weaker side until you feel a little like the strength on both sides is more similar and balanced.

Have you ever dealt with IT band pain? —Alison 



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