Welcome to our holiday gift to you:
Twelve Days of Healthy Running Tips
On the ninth day of Christmas
my run coach taught to me:
Why Strength is Important
a tech time-out
7 cardinal rules of nutrition
cultivate neutral feet
recruit my hamstrings
how to use gravity
3 key running phases
to use my Achilles tendons
and a proper foot strike...
As a runner you are almost guaranteed to get injured. While it's true that runners practicing Pose have significantly less occurrence of injury - the problem arises when form falters due to fatigue. How do you combat fatigue? Strength.
Admit it, as an avid runner, you will do anything in your power to make your daily appointment with the pavement won't you? You love the rush of pushing through fatigue to finish that last mile on your schedule… Would you run outside in the freezing cold without a coat? Why not? Because you would be more susceptible to catching a cold. Similarly, if you are pushing longer distances without the proper strength to keep good form, you are more susceptible to getting injured.
Below is a list of the most commonly ignored muscle groups we've found with our runners. Strengthening these areas will not only improve your running performance, but will also help “bullet-proof” your body so you can do what you love for the long term.
Most Commonly Ignored Muscle Groups
When it comes to running injuries, over-pronation (rolling inward of the foot) has traditionally been considered the culprit. Mainstream running shoe companies came to the rescue by inventing motion-control or stability shoes, right? Throw in an over-the-counter orthotic and you've successfully stuffed enough junk under your arch to prevent your foot from rolling inward. Congratulations. You've just spent a bunch of money on a crutch.
Here's a different idea, one that's infinitely healthier for you: train the muscles in your feet. Start with the abductor hallucis muscles - they're the ones that originate from the heel bone and travel along the inside of the foot, inserting at the base of the big toe.
As an endurance runner, you probably never get into what's called full hip extension - unless your speed workouts have you sprinting. This means that your glutes never fully flex to the point where your pulling foot is just underneath your buttocks in line with your hip - full hip extension.
This eventually leaves your glutes underdeveloped relative to the other primary muscle groups like your hamstrings - creating an imbalance. Imbalances are bad… it means that a muscle group is having to do extra work to compensate for a weakness somewhere else. This results in muscle strains and issues with your running form.
A strong core will help to prevent injuries and allow you to run with proper technique for longer. As we go for longer and longer runs, we tend to lose the lateral strength and rotational range of motion that proper running form requires.
Proper running form starts at the pelvis, if the pelvis is stable, more force is naturally absorbed by your muscles and soft tissue upon each foot strike. If the pelvis lacks stability, the force from the ground is allowed to travel to your lower back, knees and other joints - this is commonly known as "hip-dip" and it's NOT what you want.
Do you feel like you’re going to spontaneously combust from the sheer pain you feel when you roll your iliotibial (IT) bands? After a long run, does your lower back ache and feel like you’re one wrong move from being in traction for the rest of the week? These are usually symptoms of a weak core. Get your core stronger - it's worth it.
Tips on Getting Stronger
Toe Towel Curl
Sit in a chair with your bare feet on the floor. Place a bath towel flat on the floor. Put the toes of your right foot along the bottom edge of the towel. Use your toes to crunch up the towel. When you reach the end of the towel, extend the towel flat on the floor again. Repeat 10 times on both feet.
Face-Up Hip Dips
Sit on the floor with your hands behind you under your shoulder and with your legs extended in front of you. While keeping your abs engaged and weight on the heels of your feet, squeeze your glutes to elevate your hips off the ground as high as you can. Pause at the top for a count of three and return to the bottom - do this for a set of ten. Once that becomes too easy, progress to doing them one leg at time by keeping one leg up in the air and then switching.
Face-Down Hip Dips
Assume a push-up position, with hands directly under your shoulders and your toes tucked. Move the hips straight up in the air as high as you can, making an upside-down V. Return to push-up position and repeat for a set of ten. Once that becomes too easy, progress to doing them one leg at time by keeping one leg up in the air and then switching.
Stand up tall and drop one leg back behind you as if you were going to do a lunge. From this position, simply drop your back knee straight down to the ground while staying upright from the waist up and keeping your abs engaged. You should feel a nice stretch down the front of the back leg as well. Do this for a set of ten for each leg.
We hope these tips serve you well in your quest to become a healthier, lifelong runner! Stay tuned for more TIPS TOMORROW and we wish everyone HEALTHY and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Keep on Running!
Julia, Patrick & Jo-Jo