Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to stay running injury free this spring

The weather is finally warming from this deplorable winter and many runners are testing out the roads during some of our warmer February days.  As many of our patients who run know, injuries tend to happen when you load up poorly functioning bodies with exercise.

Simple tests to screen yourself and see if your body may require some help before hitting the road.
1. Balance on one leg - This simple test where you balance on each leg, for 30 seconds will tell you if you are likely to have running problems.  Lift the leg until your thigh is perpendicular to your body (90 degrees).  If you lose your balance on one or both sides, you should visit your chiropractor or muscle therapist to have them find the muscular imbalance and correct it.  Often, problems in the back of the calf by the posterior knee are part of the problem as well as the gluteal muscles and the oblique muscles in the abdomen.  An imbalance of tension in these muscles will cause you to over and under stride with the net result being pain.  Get it checked out by a professional and then hit the road.
2. Crouch down slowly.  If you lose your balance or have a hard time getting up from this position unassisted, you are having problems and should have them checked out.  Imbalances such as the ones I spoke about in the first test will make it difficult to do this correctly.  What will likely happen if you run like this - pain in the hips, shins and the legs will tighten.  See a professional before running.

Great warm up exercises before your run
1. Hip Extensions - get on all fours and lift the right leg bent at 90 degrees 10 -20 times.  This will help warm up the gluts.
2. Lateral leg raises - While on your side, with the bottom leg bent, lift the top leg straight up for 10 - 20 repetitions.
3. Calf raises - Stand on the stoop on one foot with the ball of the foot on the edge.  Let the calf stretch out all the way and then slowly push off and lift your body.  Do these 10 -20 times.  These are great for warming up the front and the back of the lower leg.
4.  Balancing for 30 seconds on each leg - Essentially, this is the same as the test mentioned above.  This will help warm up the muscles and prepare them for exercises.

Avoid stretching - little evidence to support this unless we have a young growing child. Exercises is what you should do even if you grew up with the notion that you should stretch before the run.  Trust me, you will run stronger with exercises instead.

Other things that may help
1. Foam rollers - especially if the gluts and lateral legs are tight, this will perform a crude form of myofascial release and improve the way you feel during your run. Never do this after exercise, only before
2. Mild stretching after the run to ensure the muscles heal with more flexibility.  Gentle, not vigorous.

I hope you find this useful.  If you have any questions, or opinions, please forward them to