By Peter San Nicolas
This week I’m in the city of Auburn, Calif., one of the frontiers of gold country and home to the challenging Western States Endurance Run/Ultra Marathon and the difficult Western States Endurance Ride/Tevis Cup held each year.
Auburn is considered one of the best places to live in Northern California. It’s bordered by the beautiful American River Canyon and nestled in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Located at the crossroads of I-80 and historic Highway 49, Auburn is the county seat of Placer County. The city encompasses approximately 7.5 square miles and has a population of 12,800.
Situated at elevations between 1,000 and 1,400 feet (much like Ramona), the surroundings offer an awesome seasonal change. Auburn presents many opportunities for physical activity including biking, hiking, triathlons, marathons and more.
I have written before about the importance of posture and how our sedentary lifestyle promotes a hunched-over stature. For those who aren’t sedentary and are marathon runners like the ones who make the pilgrimage to the Western States Ultra in Auburn, take heed, because this article will help you as well as those who are sedentary deal with neck and back pain, or those who are starting an exercise program. Now by no means am I a runner or will I ever aspire to be, but with my venture to Auburn and its rich history of the ultra marathon, I was inspired to tie in my back, biceps,and core workout with this stop.
I tell all my clients that for every front side exercise they do, they need to do two back side exercises.
The first movement that we will address is the low row. You can do this with a TRX Suspension Trainer, a cable machine or a set of dumbbells. On this movement you must really focus on retracting the shoulder blades. It’s kind of like rowing a boat. Pull with your elbows in and chest up and out. This will work your latissimus dorsi and rhomboid muscles.
The next movement, core rotations, will work the core including the spinal erectors, or lower back, rectus abdominal, or stomach, and your obliques. These are key muscles for creating leverage for the lower body when running. Your legs must have a foundation to create force against. This foundation is the core. Use a tube, cable or dumbbell and rotate side to side, keeping an asymmetrical triangle with your arms. Basically keep your hands in front of your sternum while rotating.
The last movement is great for keeping your shoulders back while you’re running and keeping your thoracic and cervical spine in the proper alignment as well as strengthening your shoulders. This is the external rotation. I do this one with the TRX, but you can do it with a variety of tools. Keeping your spine straight, feel like you are going to backhand someone behind you. Use a tube or cable and place your elbow at a right angle with it tucked into your side and rotate your arm back and forth like you’re hitting a backhand return in tennis, but do this slowly and controlled, as we are working the smaller intrinsic muscles of the shoulder.