Running Injury Free

Part 2: Using Bands and Lacrosse balls for warm up

Part 2 on how to run Injury free.

We continue our warm up series with Bands and Lacrosse balls. These are two tools that are easy to travel with (even on planes) and can be used virtually anywhere. These are best done after you are a bit warmed up and before/after short runs or on a mobility centric day where you might be working on stretching or yoga.

The Band warm up helps increase ROM in the shoulders and upper back as well as prime the muscles to move. This is especially important if you sit at a desk all day and then want to run after work. Your upper back and shoulders will be tight and used to being in a forward position from using a computer or writing. The band movements will increase blood flow to these areas.

The lacrosse ball will help keep the feet supple and help work tight knotty areas out that form after continuous activity. I have also found that the lacrosse ball is a great way to keep plantar fasciitis at bay. The feet should be ideally taken care of every day if possible. I have been known to keep a lacrosse ball in the shower to roll out the bottom of my feet and stretch my big toe.

Big toe flexibility is directly related to running form and performance. Take care of the big toe by stretching and moving it. Increase the ROM by using your hands and physically moving the toe up/down to stretch it. A stiff and immobile big toe can lead to ankle and knee issues as well as gait and running form deficiencies. It’s hard to think of your big toe being so important but it is and I advise you to take good care of it. I once broke my big toe and did not take are of the flexibility after it healed and kept running on it. I lost a lot of motion in the joint and this led to calf and knee issues down the line.

Below I will outline the warm ups/stretches briefly. Watch the accompanying video(s) to see how to perform them.

  1. Band Warm ups
    1. Upper Body Band Warm up
      1. Shoulder Pass through
        1. Keep the arms straight and hands out wide. The band should be taunt. Rotate from the shoulders, bring the band from the front of the body to behind the body in one movement. If you have to bend your elbows move the hands out wider.
      2. Front pull apart
        1. Arms out straight in front of the body, the band is loose
        2. Start the pull from the shoulder blades by tightening/squeezing them together.
        3. Pull hands away from each other until arms are fully extended to the side.
      3. Overhead pull apart
        1. Arms up, straight above the shoulders. The band is loose.
        2. Keeping the arms straight, pull hands apart until they are out to the side and the band is touching your shoulders.
      4. Bent Over pulls
        1. Place middle of band under the feet by standing on it
        2. Grab both sides of the band and bend over
        3. Keep back straight
        4. Pull elbows back until hands are by the chest
        5. Return arms towards ground
    2. Lower body band warm up
      1. Sideways Glute activation
        1. Open band up and place half on the ground, keep half in hands
        2. Step onto band with feet, keep feet shoulder width
        3. Twist band to make an “X”
        4. Step sideways, Do not bring feet together keep them shoulder width or wider. Its okay to keep a bend in the knees.
      2. Penguin walks
        1. Open band up and place half on the ground, keep half in hands
        2. Step onto band with feet, keep feet shoulder width
        3. Pull band up over head onto the shoulders
        4. Keep legs straight, walk forward/backwards

  1. Lacrosse ball
    1. Feet and big toe
      1. Manual stretch of toe
        1. Push/pull toe
        2. Rotate toe
      2. Big toe stretch against ball
        1. Put big toe on ball and press into ball
      3. Lateral Roll
        1. Roll foot side to side across ball, moving up and down the foot.
      4. Front to back roll
        1. Roll foot forward/backward on ball
      5. Heel roll
        1. Press heel into ball
        2. Make small circles and lateral movements on just the heel

    1. Calves
      1. Calf smash
        1. Press lacrosse ball into calf (soleus)
      2. Achilles
        1. Move calf side to side over lacrosse ball
        2. Work your way up and down the calf
        3. Stop ball just above where the Achilles tendon and muscle meet
        4. Flex foot away and towards
    2. Shins
      1. Front of Shin (Tibialis Anterior)
        1. Place lacrosse ball in the meaty part of the shin.
        2. Press ball into muscle, push/pull foot towards/away from body
        3. Move ball up/down muscle as you pull and point the foot
      2. Side of Shin (Peroneus Anterior)
        1. Place lacrosse ball on the ground
        2. Sit on the floor and place outside of shin on top of the lacrosse ball, the shin will be perpendicular to the body (like pigeon pose in yoga)
        3. Roll ball up and down side of shin by moving the leg across the ball

    1. Glutes
      1. Side Glute pocket
        1. Sit on ground
        2. Place ball under side of glute
        3. Lean to the side to place pressure into the glute muscle
        4. Move ball around
        5. Be gentle, this can be a tender area

    1. Legs
      1. Hamstring
        1. Sit on box or bench
        2. Place ball under legs close to the glutes.
        3. Move leg side to side over ball
        4. Kick leg up/down
        5. Move ball around

    1. Upper back/Shoulders
      1. Side shoulder roll
        1. Place ball between your shoulder and the wall
        2. Roll ball across side of shoulder looking for knots and tight areas
        3. Move side to side and up/down
      1. Shoulder blades
        1. Place ball between your back and the wall
        2. Roll ball across Shoulder blades looking for knots and tight areas
        3. Move up/down back, do not go over the spine.