In this article we’re going to cover 5 tips for healthy running! We’re going to be looking at staying healthy as a runner! So if you’re struggling with pain, unable to run a few miles without pain, unable to speed train like you used to – this is for you!
Here is a quick reminder before we jump into this. You are not going to be running train… but TRAINING to run. We’re going to get into the details of how we train to run. In order to run in a healthy way and be able to stay healthy, to hit the mileage you want to hit, to run in the races you want to run, to reach those fitness or weight loss goals that you have by running, we’re going to be talking about how do we do that safely and effectively.
If you are more of the visual and auditory learner just click the YouTube video below outlining everything that is in this article!
Let’s get STARTED!
Tip 1: Train Your Running Muscles
It’s not enough to go into the gym and do your HIT training or bootcamp work out. You have to devote time to work on those specific muscles associated with running. In no particular order, some muscles we’re thinking of include:
Calf Muscles (Gastrocenimius and Soleus Muscles):
You use your calf muscles ALOT when you’re running. You especially need endurance of your calf muscles. So if you cannot do 25 single leg calf raises then you need to work on the endurance of your calf muscle. Click THIS LINK for an exercise to help strengthen your calf muscle.
Gluteus Muscles (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Medius):
You specifically want to focus on the gluteus maximus muscle and the gluteus medius muscle. The gluteus medius muscle is extremely important when you’re running to help stabilize your pelvis and keep it level.
When it’s not working to keep your pelvis level, your pelvis drops when you’re running. If you’re getting a lot of dropping in your pelvis when you’re running, that can cause your knee to go in and this can be a contributing factor to knee pain. Therefore, you need to have good strength in your gluteus medius muscle. Most general workouts and programs will not specifically target the gluteus medius muscle, so you will not get that strengthening with your traditional dead lifts, squats and lunges. Those exercises are not targeting your gluteus medius muscle. Click THIS LINK for an exercise to help strengthen your gluteus medius muscle.
External Rotators (Piriformis,Superior Gemellus, Inferior Gemellus ):
These will be important as well. These are the muscles that rotate your hip and control what your knee is doing in regards to alignment.
Click THIS LINK for an exercise to help strengthen your external rotator muscles.
Quad Muscles (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius):
These muscles will be important in helping to guide the tracking of your knee cap as you run.
You will need to do some dedicated quad based exercises to help strengthen those muscles. Click THIS LINK for an exercise to help strengthen your quad muscle.
So, train those running specific muscles so you can run healthy!
Tip 2: Train With Your Foot On The Ground and on One Leg!
Regarding the exercises we were discussing earlier with specific muscle training, we want to be performing those exercises with our foot on the ground. Not only do we want to do this with our foot on the ground but it’s also important to do this on one leg. When you’re running, you are always on one leg, you’re never running with two feet on the ground at once. Therefore, only training in the gym with a double leg squat or a deadlift, always having two feet on the ground, may not translate into actually strengthening and training those muscles for when you’re running. Training with one foot on the ground is important because that is how our muscles function.
Our muscles function differently when our foot isn’t on the ground.
This is called an Open Chain Exercise. An open kinetic chain exercise (A) is when the hand or foot is free floating and not fixed to a surface. On the opposite end, a closed kinetic chain exercise (B) is where your hand or foot is fixed to a surface.
Think about a seated knee extension machine in the gym or the hamstring curl machine where you are sitting. Those muscles don’t function like that when you’re running because your foot is on the ground and those muscles function from more of an isometric stabilization perspective as well as an eccentric contraction. So, while your muscle is lengthening, your quad muscles are controlling the amount of flexion happening at the knee. It’s not so much just kicking your leg up. Another classic example in the hip abduction/adduction machine where you sit down and you squeeze in and you squeeze out and you feel a good burn and you’re thinking to yourself “I’m going to get nice and toned and my thighs are gonna be FIRM”. Well yes, but that’s probably not going to translate to being beneficial during your run but that’s not how those muscles function when you are running!
Tip 3: Train to JUMP with Plyometric Exercises
I’m sure you’re all wondering, why do we need to jump? We’re runners. Think about the fact that when you are running your foot lands on the ground and quickly rebounds up. This is called a plyometric activity. Your muscles go from a rapid eccentric contraction through an amortization phase and then go into a concentric contraction. Your muscles are going from eccentric to concentric and your muscles need to be able to change rapidly. You need to have spring off the ground. One of the main contributing factors to running related injuries that comes up in the research is too much time on the ground. So actually spending too much time in what we call stance phase, where your foot is on the ground, is comparison to spending time when your foot is not on the ground. Increasing your cadence by spending less time on the ground can help that. How do we increase cadence? How do we increase the reactivity of your muscles? We need to train them plyometrically which is essentially jump training. So if you’re not doing any jump training right now, you need to add some jump training into your program.
There are specific running focused plyometric exercises that you want to do! There are level 1 plyometric training exercises where you’ll want to start if you haven’t done plyometric training before. If you do plyometric training for the first time, even if you’ve been hitting the gym every day for last 25 years, you will be sore the next day. This is simply because plyometric training requires different demands of your muscles than it is just doing your traditional strength training exercises.
Click THIS LINK for my level 1 plyometric program, which is a great place to start.
Click THIS LINK or the video below for those more experienced and have been doing some form of jump training exercises for my level 2 plyometric program
Ultimately what plyometric training does, is strengthens and conditions your muscles to be able to tolerate the demands of running so that when your foot hits the ground you can spring back up quickly and efficiently and spend less time on the ground so there is less stress on your joints and soft tissue muscles.
Tip 4: Train Yourself on Proper Self Tissue Care
What do we mean by this? When you are running, you’re constantly using your muscles. Your muscles are your soft tissue. Your muscles are connected to other soft tissue. There’s fascia which surrounds your muscles, as well as tendons that connect your muscle to your bone. A lot of running related injuries are due to overuse of the tendons or muscles that are not strong enough OR muscles that are not as pliable. So maybe you have a length issue or you have trigger points in your muscles or your muscles might be stiff and tight. So if you don’t train yourself in proper soft tissue care, you’re not allowing yourself the ability to work through some of these soft tissue complications. What we’re really talking about here are your self mobilization techniques. Whether you’re using a foam roller, a rolling stick, a lacrosse ball, a tennis ball, whatever your pleasure is, you’re foam rolling those muscles before you’re running and after you’re running as well as stretching those tight muscles! If it’s your hip flexors that are super tight, if it’s your calf muscles that are super tight and limiting your ankle mobility and it’s difficult for you to do hill work because you’re getting pain in your Achilles, then that’s a problem! You need to dedicate some time on soft tissue care and do some dynamic stretching prior to your work out and then at the end of your run do static stretching. Dynamic stretching prior to your run will be those active stretches where you’re moving and static stretching following your run will be those longer holds of 30 to 60 seconds. When you’re running, you’re consistently contracting your muscles and if you don’t stretch following your run, those muscles will just stay in that contracted state and will never resume back to their resting length. If you’re logging 20 miles a week for 10 years, those muscles are going to constantly shorten over time and that can be a contributing factor as to why you might get some running pain down the road.
Click THIS LINK for a more detailed previous blog article I posted a couple of month ago on the topic of proper soft tissue care.
So, the moral of the story: That proper self tissue care is so IMPORTANT. You can’t just go out there and run and just do you exercise program and strength train. You have to balance it off by soft tissue care and the best way to do this is self mobility. So yes, can you go see your physical therapist and have them do soft tissue work with instruments, or dry needling, or maybe you see a massage therapist?
Of course! These things are all great and maybe you need those periodic check ins based on how much you’re training. However, your self mobility techniques are going to be golden and that’s what is really going to keep you healthy in the long run — is taking care of yourself. That’s the foam rolling, the stick, the ball to use on those muscles and by no means are these a magic pill to fix everything but they are one part of the equation that a lot of runners do not use that could really benefit them in the long run!
Tip 5: Train SMART with Proper Progression
It’s not just about your physical health. It’s just about the exercises the we talked about or targeting the specific muscles. It’s not only about training plyometrically or training with your foot on the ground. It’s not only about taking care of your soft tissue. These are physical things that we can take care of. What we’re talking about here is training mentally and proper progression. A common theme we’ve been seeing in running related injuries is ramping back up way too fast. Proper training is going to keep you healthy! It’s not realistic for anyone to think that they can go from zero to sixty in a week or two. If you’ve taken any substantial time off from running, for example, you didn’t train over the winter and you’ve just been lagging along in the spring and now it’s summer and you’re thinking okay, it’s beach time, I gotta get out there and run every day… You have to progress your body back into running.
You have to be smart about how you’re adding in the training. The big thing is that you have to slowly build up your weekly mileage and consistency is key. It’s recommended to run at least 3 to 4 times a week. If you’re just starting out, start out with 2 to 3 miles. Get your body consistently able to run 3 to 4 times a week and then you’ll be able to add in some length. Once your body is used to running again you can progress to 4 miles, 5 miles, 6 miles. You’re slowly building up and then you’re getting to a weekly mile count, maybe 25 or 30 miles a week. Once you’re there, that’s your base. So now your body is used to running 25-30 miles a week and then this is where you start to add in your harder runs! This is when you add in your speed intervals, your track workouts, your hill workouts. You don’t want to add these in as you’re adding your mileage. If you’re building up right now, you want to build up that weekly mileage first! You need to allow your body to work back up to that proper fitness level so you’re not coming away with soft tissue break down and having pain in your hamstrings, your Achilles and your knees. You have to train SMART with proper progression in order to stay healthy!
So those are your five tips! Five tips really relating to the overall theme of training to run, making sure that you are training in order to run — not just running in order to train!
Are you a runner looking for a community that is dedicated to helping you stay happy and healthy doing what you love?
You could be an active adult starting out with a couch to 5k program or you may be an experienced marathoner!
The FREE Healthy Runner CT facebook group is your answer!
Our specialty here is prehab, rehab, recovery, and performance for all types of runners!
Click here to join our community http://bit.ly/HealthyRunnerGroup
Are you a runner that is trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your goals?
Are you worried that an injury will limit you from doing what you love like working out and training?
Have you wondered what it will cost you in the long run if you continue to train through pain?
Have you seen other medical providers in the past that just tell you to stop your activity?
We have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients. We combine manual hands-on techniques with guided supervised exercises to help you get stronger, pain-free and perform at your peak level to get you back on the road doing what you love. 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!
The SPARK Physical Therapy Commitment
No long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week. We see you either onsite at a partnering gym or in the comfort of your home when it is convenient with your schedule.
One on one for a full hour with your doctor of physical therapy, every visit. We provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.
Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.
Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? Get an answer from your therapist directly.
If you’re in the greater Hamden, 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 this CONTACT REQUEST LINK and we’ll set up a free-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy
Thank you for taking the time to read,
– Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS
A special thanks goes out to Allie Eldridge, SPT for her contributions to this article
Have you been struggling to motivate yourself to prioritize nutrition during this stressful time of coronavirus? Are you wondering how to recreate structure or reestablish your mealtimes during your day while working from home? Personally, I know my discipline with nutrition took a back seat during this pandemic. In this article, you will learn actionable… View ArticleRead More
Do you still need a kick start to getting your running fitness back? Have you been struggling to get your motivation back to be consistent for your runs? Would you like more energy, motivation and finally get rid of your aches & pains for those mental clearing runs? In this Healthy Runner Podcast episode, we… View ArticleRead More
Runners! Have you ever experienced foot pain? Are you frustrated that you are receiving poor advice about your foot pain and your foot pain is not going away? I know I’ve been there. I was ignored and wasn’t taken seriously. I was told I shouldn’t be a runner! Well, that resulted in a total of… View ArticleRead More
Have you ever been on a run and wondered…why does the front of my leg hurt when I run? Were you thinking to yourself, should I run through shin pain? This can be common for new runners just starting out or can occur in experienced runners who are really stepping up their training with heavy… View ArticleRead More
For the past 16 years, I have worked with many runners and have been fortunate enough to be able to run for the past 8 years… BUT It hasn’t been all medals and flowers. In this blog post, I am going to answer some of the common questions I get from runners on how… View ArticleRead More
Don’t Let Achilles Pain Let You Down At Your Next Race! In this article I will outline 3 simple steps that will allow you to stop achilles pain in it’s tracks before it even begins. These tips are based on years of experience working with runners who suffer from this condition and I want to arm you with the tools to prevent it in order for you to add those summer miles and hit your PR’s!Read More
Have you been frustrated that you should be training in order to run, but you’re not sure what exactly you should be doing? We are here to answer your questions about jump training or what we call plyometric training! I’m going to sharing with you something I didn’t even get in PT school…. View ArticleRead More
What 3 tips did I learn during this past week of being home social distanced from my world? How did I stay active and fit and maintain my sanity?…😧 “I feel so out of control and with all the chaos going on in my house … how do I stay fit without going to the… View ArticleRead More
Are you a runner who has had your spring race cancelled or delayed and you are struggling to get your running mojo back? In this episode we are talking about how to run and train safely during this COVID-19 crisis with our Special Guest, Steve Carmichael who is founder of Runbuzz Pacebuilders online run coaching… View ArticleRead More
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… View ArticleRead More
In this article we will be discussing the one test your doctor must order for you when you are in pain as well as what to expect during your first physical therapy appointment. You could be a runner, dancer, gymnast, or an aerial circus artist who is having pain in your knee, foot, or shoulder. … View ArticleRead More
Would you like to remain active, get stronger and heal from injuries without being told that you have to stop running? In this blog article, we will lay out the foundational principles that I like to call the “SPARK Blueprint”, which will bring your running to a new level as we head into the new… View ArticleRead More
Have you been frustrated in the past that you’ve taken up running or you started a new training cycle and you just get injured and must stop? In today’s blog & podcast episode, we’re going to be talking about how to strengthen your muscles to train, to run. Click the video below to… View ArticleRead More
In this article we’re going to cover 5 tips for healthy running! We’re going to be looking at staying healthy as a runner! So if you’re struggling with pain, unable to run a few miles without pain, unable to speed train like you used to – this is for you! Here is a quick… View ArticleRead More
Do you have pain in the back part of your upper thigh or near your butt right on your “sit bone”? Is this pain preventing you from running? In this article we’re going to discuss ways to stop this pain in its tracks to get you back on the road doing what you love as well as to prevent it from coming back!Read More
Have you ever wondered what you should do if you have pain during or after a run? This is a topic we hear about often. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re running and feeling pain and wondering, is this real pain or is this normal soreness? Are you icing after every single… View ArticleRead More
Have you ever felt drained during the last couple of miles during your long run or you can’t keep your pace at mile 10 for a half marathon or mile 20 for a full marathon? In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into how you can fuel for a long run… View ArticleRead More
What Can I Help You With During These Uncertain Times…? Are you in need of some mental relief (like me) and are looking to get in some exercise during this time of social distancing? Are you a runner who wants to stay healthy now more than ever for the benefits of your immune system while… View ArticleRead More
Are you new to running and you just go out there as hard as you can each and every run? Are you someone who always gets injured every time you try to train for a race? I know I have been there before running 49 road races and 21 half marathons to date. In this… View ArticleRead More
Have you Been Told To Stop Running? In today’s article we’re going to talk about something that we hear all too common. If you’re a runner and you’re going to other medical professionals, no matter who it is, whether it’s a physical therapist, chiropractor, orthopaedic surgeon – we’ve heard this story a lot…. View ArticleRead More
Are you a parent who is feeling like you are juggling 3 jobs right now? Employee, mom, and teacher 24/7? Are you struggling to keep your children active right now?…😩 Are you wondering what the best practices are to motivate your children to stay active during this coronavirus isolation? I know this is going on… View ArticleRead More
Does the heat and humidity prevent you from running? Do your race goals suffer if you have a hot weather day? In this article we’re going to be covering 7 tips to help beat the heat and actually go for your run even when the weather is hot and humid! In excessively hot weather,… View ArticleRead More
Why do I keep getting injured running? Have you wondered this before or want to know how running injuries can be prevented? Do you think your body is just not made for running? These are the struggles and frustrations I hear often for those looking to seek a healthier lifestyle. I even thought this myself… View ArticleRead More
Do you get tightness in your muscles or feel aches and pains during your running? Do you know you should be doing stretching exercises to make you a better runner but you are not sure what you should be doing…😩? We’re here to answer those questions and give you the best exercises to do in… View ArticleRead More
Did you struggle to stay fit in April? Get your SPARK back as you rise up from this downturn! Dropped some serious fire last night on Monday Night SPARK Live! This video outlines the 3 benefits of having structured workouts. If you missed it above CLICK THIS LINK to take you to… View ArticleRead More
Do you get stubborn pain on the outside of your knee with running especially going up hills? This could be sharp at times and may even cause you to walk during your run. Have you thought… will IT band syndrome ever go away? Have you tried rest, ice, and stopping running but every time you… View ArticleRead More
Are you starting to walk, jog, or run because your gym is closed or your other hobbies and activities are shut down during COVID-19? Are you intimidated by other runners or worried you are too slow to be a runner? During this live interview with Catrina Aniballi, Duane and Catrina answer some common questions and… View ArticleRead More
Registration Have you been struggling to get the motivation to run consistently? Spark off your summer and get back your running fitness with this special race series! In the wake of COVID-19, SPARK Physical Therapy and Lift Your Sole are collaborating to coordinate a virtual race series to keep you motivated and running this… View ArticleRead More
I am taking this COVID-19 social distancing and quarantine situation as a way to take lemons and make a little lemonade! I want this to be an opportunity to serve even more of you! To help you STAY ACTIVE, STAY HEALTHY and improve your immunity (and mental sanity) during this crisis together! Click THIS LINK… View ArticleRead More
Do you struggle with running at the same level you used to be able to do a couple of years ago? Do you have knee pain when you hit the pavement for your run? In this article we’re going to cover the 5 things you need to know about Iliotibial Band Syndrome! If you… View ArticleRead More
Do you get lost in all of the exercise that is shared out there on social media? Do you know you should be doing exercises to make you a better runner, but you’re not sure what you should be doing? We’re here to answer those questions and give you the best exercises to do in… View ArticleRead More
Runners! Do You Have Nagging Injuries? Do you wake up every morning with an achy pain on the bottom of your foot when you get up to go brush your teeth? Or are you a runner who has been feeling knee cap pain during your runs, going up and down stairs, and when you squat? … View ArticleRead More
Does adding yoga into your running make you a faster runner? Rachel Pelham Serafino is a yoga instructor at Running Asana, a new kind of yoga studio built by and for runners. In this episode, she dispels common misconceptions about yoga as well as breaks down the physical and mental benefits that you will see… View ArticleRead More
What Happens When You Train For 13.1? Do You Have A 2020 Goal To Run A Half Marathon? 13.1 is within reach and we have the race for you! The Cheshire Half Marathon on April 26th! VERY EXCITED TO SHARE THIS NEWS… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ More than excited to be teaming up with Clay Tebbetts in… View ArticleRead More
Are you new to running during the coronavirus crisis or have you been running for years but are not sure if you are in the right shoe, how to properly care for you shoes, or even when you should replace them? I was lucky enough to bring on Matt Santillo, running shoe expert from Woodbridge… View ArticleRead More
Have you been worried about your health or the health of your loved one’s during this whole COVID crisis we are going through? In this episode we are talking about how we cope with this new world we live in during COVID with our Special Guest, Irene Bosco who is a Clinical Social Worker Specialist… View ArticleRead More
“I went to see Duane early into my marathon training with hamstring pain. At that time, I was barely able to run 3 miles and was in pain. After a thorough exam and analysis of my running, he was able to diagnose and start treatment that day. Duane provided me with exercises to strengthen my hamstring and surrounding running muscles, all while slowly building my mileage back up. He was honest with me about setting realistic goals for my race and helped me to meet those goals. With his help, I was able to run the New York City Marathon.”
“I first went to Duane prior to training for my first full marathon because I had some aches and pains from running that I wanted to sort out. Duane was able to diagnose the problems immediately and I went home pain free. The exercises he prescribed were personalized to my needs and within a few weeks, I felt stronger and pain free while running so I could get to healthy training! It’s great to have a physical therapist who understands athletes and encourages people to continue to stay active. I highly recommend Duane to any person who is looking to stay healthy while maintaining an active lifestyle!”
SPARK Physical Therapy was instrumental in my recovery of from achilles tendinitis. I visited a podiatrist who said I would need surgery to shave down a bone spur and Haglund’s Deformity. The recovery would be at least 8 weeks and at the time I was 24 weeks from running the NYC Marathon. Duane evaluated me and said I needed to work on my calf muscle and flexibility. We started treatment with dry needling and specific exercises that I could do on my own. The pain subsided and even after some long runs everything was starting to feel better. I will tell you that I ran and finished the NYC Marathon without pain or issues from my achilles. Had I not met Duane about a week after my podiatrist appointment I would have needed to defer my marathon and probably would still be recovering from the surgery. I was able to run through my injury safely and achieve my goal. The refreshing thing about SPARK Physical Therapy is they do not push for ton of session. I met my running goals in 10 sessions spread out over 3-4 months. Big Thank you to Duane and I highly recommend seeing him for any running injury you may have!
Just fill in your info below and we will send these to you right away!