bridge lift

Melting away our running aches and pains

by Meghan Reynolds

No matter how strong I am, how in shape I am or how much yoga I'm doing, I'm sore - A LOT! I sometimes feel like my hamstrings are made of lead. This feeling has been increasing over the past few weeks as my miles have ramped up and I'm doing track workouts. The soreness and pain diminish pretty quickly after running, it rears its ugly head during my runs. This has happened before and through trial and error, I discovered what relieves this soreness and pain (besides total rest): strength exercises and the MELT METHOD.

I still do yoga, foam roll and stretch but the combination of strength and MELT have relieved my body of so much soreness and pain, it's like a miracle. Seriously. Below details what I've been doing and why it helps.

Strength exercises - these exercises specifically target my hamstrings and glutes. I need to build up strength so they don't fatigue as quickly and are less prone to injury.

Bridge Lift and Walk

Single Leg Bridge Lift

Clock Lunges

Glute Press Up

Single Leg Deadlift

MELT Method: I use the actual MELT balls but you can use a tennis ball and golf ball. I do this after every run and in the mornings if my feet feel cranky. The reason MELT is effective for hamstring and glute issues is because the technique addresses dehydration. We have connective tissue all over our body, and in its simplest form, is what holds our muscles and organs in place. When this tissue is dehydrated, it doesn't move as well. When you bring back fluids to the tissues, you feel better and your body moves more easily. Check out this example of a 3 minute foot release from the MELT Method founder. Sometimes I just roll my feet on the large green roller (you can use a frozen water bottle). Do this for a week and I promise, you'll feel the difference.

Fitness Friday - 3 Moves to Power Up your Runs

Get a great backside and get faster at the same time. Having a strong, toned butt not only looks great but it actually helps you run faster. As your speed increases, the biomechanical load placed on your glutueus and hamstrings intensifies the most. Thus, to get faster and not get injured, you need to develop strong glutes and hamstrings. These 3 moves will help you strength, tone and lift your backside and make you a faster runner. Do each exercise at least 2 times and aim to do lower body strength work at least 2 times a week.

Plie Squat - Strengthens the inner thigh (adductors) and the glutes. Great squat variation. Do 25 reps, 2x.

Single Leg Bridge Lift - Strengthens the hamstrings and gluts. Added bonus, stabilizes the hips. Do this exercises for 30 seconds and repeat.


Clamshells - Strengthens the gluteus medius which will help the efficiency of your stride and your leg turnover rate. Do 15-20 reps on each leg, 2x.


Strength Move of the Week: Bridges

As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. Incorporating strength doesn't come naturally to a lot of runners and often feels overwhelming. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our Strength Move of the Week!

Move of the Week: Bridge Lifts and Bridge Walk
Why we love these? Bridges strengthen the glutes and stabilize the core which reduces the risk of injury to the hips and knees. Feel this exercise primarily in the glutes and abdominals, not the lower back. If you are new to bridges, start with bridge lifts for the first week and then add in bridge walks. Otherwise, do both of these - one after the other. No matter what, make these are part of regular weekly routine! 

To get into proper bridge position lie on your back with your hands at your sides and bend your knees to bring your feet flat on the ground about hands length away from your butt. Raise your hips by firing your glutes (squeezing your butt cheeks) and using your hamstrings and glutes to drive your heels into the ground. Lift up until you create a straight line from your hips to the knees without arching your lower back. Keep your abdominals contracted the entire time and avoid rocking your hips from side to side during the lifts or walks. 

Our Top 5 Strength Moves for Runners

Let’s face it, most of us runners think we are in great shape and fit because we run long distances or so many hours a week. While that’s true, running is the same motion over and over and over again. Thus, your muscles and joints learn to behave in a very specific way. In order to become a faster and stronger runner, incorporate cross training and strength exercises into your weekly running plans.

One of our favorite ways to incorporate strength into our weekly workouts is to do the exercises during a run. We do this on an easy run day and not on a day before or after our speed/tempo/hill or long run.

Here’s our workout: Run 1 mile, dynamic warmup series, run ½ mile, legs, run ½ mile, abs, run ½ mile, upper body, finish up with 1 mile cool down.

Here are the top 5 exercises we recommend for every runner. Do 2-3 sets of each exercise at least 2x a week. You will become stronger and you will feel faster. We've included a link to our video. The description is within our YouTube video.

1. Plank - Builds abdominal and lower back strength to support and stabilize your upper body while running improving form, performance and reducing risk of injury. 

  • Begin lying face down, resting on your forearms. 
  • Push off the floor, raising up on to toes and forearms so your body is parallel to the floor, making a straight line from your head to your heels
  • Focus on pulling your abdominal in and keeping your shoulders over your elbows. 
  • Look slightly forward to avoid straining the neck.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.

2. Side Plank - Strengthes the oblique muscles and increase hip strength and stability which are important in preventing injury. 

  • Begin by lying on your right side with your right forearm on the ground, shoulder over your elbow and left leg stacked on top of right.
  • Exhale and push your hips off the floor. Keep pushing left hip up towards the sky. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side

3. Pushups - Strengthens the shoulders, arms and core improving your upper body strength which will improve your running economy, help maintain proper form as your lower body begins to fatigue, and are essential for hilly terrain in order to drive your legs uphill.  

  • Get into a plank position and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Feet can be together or wider apart (easier).
  • Contract your abs by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Keep your core tight throughout the movement.
  • Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Exhale as you push back up to the start position. Don't lock the elbows; keep them slightly bent.
  • Repeat 25 times (full or modified or a combination).

3. Squats - Strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals, calves and hip flexors. These are great for runners because they work the entire lower body and improve muscle balance.  

  • Stand with your knees shoulder width apart and toes angled out, arms by your sides. 
  • Squat down bringing thighs parallel to the floor. Keep your weight in your heels, chest up, back flat and knees behind your toes. Squeeze your butt as you come back up. 
  • For weak knees, only perform a partial squat. 
  • Repeat 25 times.

4. Bridge Lift - Works your glutes, which is necessary for efficient leg turnover. 

  • Lie flat on your back with your hands by your side, knees bent and feet hips width apart. 
  • Fire your glutes by driving your heels into the ground to raise your hips. Your hips should create a straight line from the knee through the hip and shoulder. 
  • At the top point, draw in the abdominals and hold for 2 seconds. 
  • Lower back down and repeat.
  • You should feel this in your glutes and hamstrings, not your back.
  • Repeat 25 times.

5. Single Leg Deadlift - Strengthens the hips, engages the hamstrings and gets the glutes firing. These are all needed for stabilizing the body while running. Balancing on one leg simulates the one legged activity of running, works your balance and core muscles. 

  • Standing up with a slight bend in the right knee, raise the left leg slightly off the ground.
  • Hinge forward at the waist and lift the left leg straight behind you until your chest is parallel to the floor. Engage your hamstring and glute of the right leg planted on the ground and come back to standing. Repeat for 10-15 times and switch legs.
  • Advanced Option: As you hinge back to standing draw the right knee up until your knee is parallel with your hips. Hold for 3 seconds and return to hinged forward position with your leg behind you. Repeat for 10-15 times.