Elizabeth Kovar begins her ACEfitness.org article “The Posterior Chain Workout”, by defining the “anatomical term, ‘posterior’” and then the phase “posterior chain.” Simply put, the chain is the functionally interconnected muscles of the “backside of the body, specifically the low back, gluteal muscle, hamstrings, and calf muscles.”
It is important Kovar says, to not just strengthen each muscle in isolation, but to “train the chain” with exercises that contract and lengthen them in a “chain-like manner”. Why? Because Kovar indicates, the chain is important for “athletic movements that require strength, flexibility and fluidity to properly Jump, rotate, lift or land.”
Yes, but runners and walkers may mostly move forward, you might be thinking. However, in moving forward we use these muscles to balance the work performed by the hip flexors and quadriceps muscles, the anterior muscle of the legs, to protect knees from injury. Developing a strong posterior chain also improves our ability of the core to maintain an upright posture in endurance events like long distance races, and prevent lower back pain.
Those training for the Earned Runs Half marathon with ‘Saints Days’ can consider this set of complex movement exercises as helping with lower body strength and core.
The demonstrated exercises include:
Think about performing only the single-leg glute bridges to break into posterior chain strengthening if the others don’t interest you. Just that one exercise will help you start to “train the chain”
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: If unable to access barbells and dumbbells for the moves that require weights, the glute bridges are a great way to start working on the posterior chain. If a stability ball isn’t in easy reach, place feet on a chair instead of the ball, and lift hips (like in performing a glute bridge) and hold for 3 seconds.
A stability ball is a relatively inexpensive but versatile piece of gym equipment; it’s worth owning one for doing upper and lower body exercises and core work. Most balls come with a set of exercise instructions.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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