Spring is right around the corner…finally. And with spring comes the resurgence of running. From competitive runners eager to step back into a warmer climate to recreational runners looking to start their seasonal running program. Whatever population you belong to, running represents one of the easiest and most beneficial types of cardiovascular exercise to partake in. However, with the majority of us not running on a regular basis during the winter months and plan on running regularly very soon (when will the winter end!?), preventing injury should be number one on your radar. Especially if you want to have a happy pain free 2014 running season. Here are a couple tips to keep you running happy and prevent common running injuries.
1) Start strengthening your intrinsic foot muscles now! Having a strong muscular system in your feet you can help prevent metatarsal head stress fractures and acute plantar fasciitis. Please refer to our blog on barefoot running: training the intrinsic foot musculature for specific exercises. https://www.activehealthinstitute.com/healthy-living-blog/page/2/
2) Slow runners should strike the ground with the outer heel, while faster, recreational runners (especially those with a history of knee pain) should consider making initial ground contact with the outer side of the mid-foot.
- Make sure whatever contact you choose, that it is comfortable
- Be sure to avoid making contact with both the inner and outer heel as this has been shown to increase injury rates
3) You must always flex your knees in the sagittal plane (pointing forward)
- You can watch your knees in a mirror, take a video from the front or have a knowledgeable friend observe
- Avoid having your knees twist inward as you flex as this could increase patellar pain or risk injuring your medial meniscus
4) During contact, runners with past patellar pain should flex their knees as little as possible and try to develop a relatively stiff-legged jogging pattern
- Flexing your knees less will decrease the amount of stress on the patella, however you may need to increase your range of motion through your hip and ankles to develop more speed
5) Those with a history of stress fractures should focus on absorbing shock as smoothly as possible
- By flexing your knee more and rotating your hip backwards at heel strike, you can absorb more force
6) While running try to keep hips as level as possible, while avoiding as much up and down movement as possible.
- Up and down movement more that 10 cm can increase your chances of developing tibial stress fractures and iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Try running in front of a mirror to check your up and down movement
7) Slow runners – evaluate your running cadence by counting how many steps you take per minute
- By increasing 5% you can decrease stress in your knees
- By increasing 10% you can decrease stress in knees and hips
Take these tips in stride (little running pun J), they may not always apply to you. Getting assessed by one of our chiropractors or physiotherapists at the Active Health Institute is the best way to reach the finish line pain free.