The Runners Key to Preventing Injury
Spring has sprung in Northern Michigan! As I sit here I’m looking out on to our back parking lot that backs up to a beautiful wooded area, which is now starting to show signs of life again! Around here we are in the heat of training for the upcoming Bayshore Half Marathon, and one of the things on our minds, and the minds of many runners is “How can I prevent an injury?”. One of the worst feelings, and believe me—I’ve been there, is training for weeks and months for an upcoming race only to be side lined by an injury. Many times runners who are training will experience “over use” injuries, caused from improper body mechanics, which is essentially, the body working against itself.
We see an influx of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and knee pain (amongst others) in the spring and summer seasons as more and more athletes are getting out and starting to train for upcoming races.
So how can you be proactive and try to prevent those “over use” injuries? You’d be surprised that just a few simple stretches and movements before you embark on that run can lower your risk of running induced injuries.
#1: Posterior Chain Mobility with Rotation
How to do it:
- Get into a small stagger stance
- Reach your rear end backwards, sitting over the back foot.
- Make sure the rear knee stays behind the toes of the rear foot.
- Once you’re in this position, you should feel it in the hamstrings and back of the hip.
- Drive your arms in a pumping motion like you are pumping your arms with running. Repeat this on both sides for 30 seconds.
#2: Posterior Chain Stability
How to do it:
- Keeping front leg relatively stiff, reach back with other leg and tap the ground behind you. While doing this, reach forward with your arms.
- Your front leg will want to bend, keep it nice and stiff.
- Repeat both sides for 30 seconds.
#3: Anterior Chain Mobility with Rotation
How to do it:
- Stand in stride stance.
- Slightly bend the knee of front leg. Keep back leg stiff.
- You should feel the tension in the front thigh of the back leg, and possibly calf of the back leg.
- Drive the arms in a pumping motion both directions like you’re pumping your arms with running.
- Repeat both sides about 30 seconds.
Pretty easy right?? Keep these other tips in mind when you’re getting ready to train for a race:
- Stay hydrated! The body will always perform better when it is properly hydrated.
- Warm Up!: With activities like running, think of the body acting as one big spring. Every time the foot lands on the ground, the muscles throughout the entire body act as a shock absorber. Like a spring, they absorb all the stress and pounding from the ground and transfer this stress as energy needed for push off, propelling you to the next step. In order for muscles to be efficient in this process they need to be warm! Refer to the pictures for the top 3 exercises to ensure are muscles are functioning as effective shock absorbers.
- Stay active—even throughout the winter: Stay moving throughout those grueling winter months, going to the gym, taking an exercise class, skiing, snowshoeing…anything that is going to keep those muscles and lungs strong. Nothing wreaks havoc on the body more than going zero to one hundred as soon as the weather is nice.
- Follow a training plan: If you’re a beginner runner, find a training plan that suits your skill level. Couch to 5K or couch to 10K are great programs for someone just starting to run. Hal Higdon also makes training plans for runners with a bit more experience.
- Know your body, know your patterns, know your risk: If you have never gotten a movement screen—GET ONE! This quick 20 minute experience can give you a wealth of knowledge to asses how your body moves, how your gait looks, and any injuries your body may be setting you up for. We can set you up for a movement screen! Call 231-944-6541, mention this blog post and grab a free 20 minute movement screen.
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