BC-AV-TRAINING:MCT – lifestyle (850 words)
Treadmill weirdness: Excellent workout!
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By Wina Sturgeon
Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com)
You don’t have to do the same old boring treadmill work. You don’t have to ploddy, ploddy forward while the gym rats behind you glance at your butt now and again. Instead, get more active on the treadmill and become a better athlete, while intensely working on your core, balance and coordination.
Start with something simple: walking backwards. This will work muscles that aren’t used in regular treadmill exercise, helping to eliminate muscle imbalances. Backwards treadmilling does great things for your lower body; it works your hamstrings and calves, and it’s a perfect training exercise for the muscle sequence used in skating, skateboarding and other sports where you push off on the ball of your foot. Walking backwards on a treadmill is even more sport-specific if you do it at an incline. It also acts as a counter-balance to regular walking by making sure that each of the 20 muscles in your feet are exercised in a full range of motion.
Essential tips: Start off at a slow speed with the “dab” method. Face backwards with one foot on each side of the moving belt. Hold on to the rails and “dab,” or lightly touch, one foot to the belt while letting it move with the belt. When you feel secure with the backward balance and speed, step down and bring the other foot onto the belt. Give yourself about half a minute to get used to the new feeling, then let go with one hand. As soon as you feel secure, let go with the other hand. To get the full benefit of walking backwards on a treadmill, it needs to be done hands free; no holding on.
To change the speed or incline, or to stop, again put one foot on each side of the moving belt. Once you get really skilled at using the machine backwards, you can look exceptionally cool by just riding off the treadmill and stepping gracefully onto the gym floor.
Next, work your balance and coordination by doing crossovers. This is essentially that old football drill, the “grapevine.” Grapevines are hard to do unless you have a big gym floor or a long empty hallway. But they’re great to do on a treadmill.
Start standing sideways, with your left side facing the controls. Turn the belt on with a minimal speed, and let go of the rails. Cross your right foot over your left, bring the left foot out and to the left, and keep doing it continuously for one or two minutes. Then turn to the right and repeat. This works your hip flexors, glutes and a few of the longest tendons in the body, including the iliotibial band. A gentle and gradual increase in exercising these tendons can help prevent the chronic inflammation that often comes when an athlete suddenly increases mileage or workout intensity. If you want to do the hard core star workout, the one used by athletes who need to be coordinated in all ranges of motion, do the four-point treadmill routine. Start with a regular frontward stride on the treadmill for about one minute. Next, without stopping, turn to the side and begin doing crossovers. After one minute, again without stopping or missing a beat, turn so that you are facing backwards and walk for one minute. Then turn to the other side and do another minute of crossovers. You will have spent four minutes exercising every muscle and joint in your lower body in various ranges of motion; doing it in an incredibly efficient and time saving way.
Two ways to kick it up a notch: increase the speed, and/or do it with a jogging stride, pushing upward from the ball of your foot rather than just putting the foot in place. This adds a slight plyometric factor to your treadmill workout, improving your “spring.”
But be careful not to overdo it. Think of this method of using a treadmill as a warm-up; do it for five or ten minutes several times a week, not every day.
The other gym rats might stare and think what you’re doing looks weird. Let ’em. You’re getting sure-footed, quick and gaining the balance required to be a better athlete in any sport you do. Move your feet in strange ways on the treadmill, then take them out to the course or field and use them to kick butt.

For the latest in adventure sports and physical conditioning, visit Adventure Sports Weekly at http://adventuresportsweekly.com.

(c) 2009, Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.co

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