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5 Tips For Healthy Running

Are you a runner trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your running goals?

For me, there is no better feeling than starting my day off on the right foot hitting the pavement with a nice run.  Running helps put me in the proper mindset to tackle the day no matter how busy or stressful the previous day was. The benefits of running include:

  1. 1. Improved energy
  2. 2. Reduced risk of developing cancer
  3. 3. Reduced risk of developing dementia and memory loss
  4. 4. Eliminates toxins through sweating
  5. 5. Manages a healthy weight

 

How can you meet your running goals whether it is to run 1 mile or 26.2?

TRAIN to Run…..Don’t run to train

This is a key distinction because running in some communities gets a bad rap…Running does not cause arthritis (no research studies have ever proven this). However, running can lead to musculoskeletal pain if you do not train correctly and prep the body for the loads it will incur with running.

 

Here are my 5 tips to help you meet your 2019 running goals:

  1. 1. Activate and strengthen your “running muscles” (not in any particular order) calves, glutes, hip abductors, hip external rotators, and quads.  These are the common culprits that become inactive when your body is experiencing pain in a body region. They are also the muscles that are important to run with proper alignment and biomechanics to prevent overuse injuries.  For example, if your hip abductors are weak then your pelvis drops and can cause your knee to go in with every step potentially leading to patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  2. 2. Perform your strengthening exercises in functional positions with your foot on the ground (like it is with running). Muscle training is specific to the activity you are doing when you want the muscle to contract and do its job.  Think of doing bodyweight exercises to strengthen the quads and glutes such as lunges, single leg squats, and step ups. Limit the usage of the quad extension, hamstring curls, seated hip inner and outer thigh machines. These exercises though popular in the gym, will not likely translate into those muscles working properly when you are running.
  3. 3. Train plyometrically because your muscles work in this fashion when you run.  This means that when your foot hits the ground it must react and quickly spring back off the ground.  These muscle contractions include an eccentric (while the muscle is lengthening) component as well as a concentric portion with a short time in between the two contractions called the amortization phase.  If you do not include these “jump training” exercises in your weekly exercise routine you are missing out on training your muscles for the challenge that running provides.
  4. 4. Take care of your soft tissues since these are the muscles that are repetitively working while you are running.  Perform routine soft tissue care with a foam roller, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball before and after runs. Perform dynamic stretching/ movement prep exercises before your runs and static stretching (hold for 30 seconds or longer) only after your runs to restore the muscles back to resting length (NEVER before running).
  5. 5. Proper progression is when it comes to building mileage as well as speed.  You should never increase the number of miles in a week at the same time as increasing your pace or adding in speedwork.

 

To summarize, it is important to not just go out and run for exercise but to train your body properly in order to be able to run happy and healthy.  Making sure your weekly routine highlights your running muscles, performing exercises with your foot on the ground, adding in plyometric or jump training, taking care of your soft tissue, and properly adding in mileage and speedwork have helped myself as well as many of the runners I work with on a daily basis.  

Have you wondered what it will cost you in the long run if you continue to run through pain?

Have you seen other medical providers in the past that just tell you to stop running?

Do you want to shave time off your next 5k or half marathon?

We have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients.

Our goal is to help keep you active and on the road, while recovering from injury by guiding you in ways to modify your training, rather than eliminating running!

If you’re in the Wallingford, CT area and are a runner that has been dealing with injuries we can help. We’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for what we do. Fill in the contact request and we’ll set up a free 10-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy

Thank you for taking the time to read,

Duane

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