5 Steps to Injury-Proof your Running
Want to look like the smiling lady above? Here are a few tips that I have learned the hard way- A few positional changes and technique modifications and ANY runner can run injury free (with the help from a friend).
Run on my Tribe!!
Here are 5 Ideas Selected JUST FOR YOU to keep you healthy and to improve your efficiency. Work less hard and go farther with a few helpful tips....
Ready?! Here we go!! Top 5...
1. Land with your foot under you.
Over-striding is a major cause of hamstring injuries and hip flexor injuries in runners. Landing with your foot in the correct position below you as related to your torso position will help make you fast and will decrease any breaks in momentum. Imagine riding a skateboard and instead of pushing off behind you, instead you impact your foot on the ground in front of you. This application of braking will cause a jarring force and kick you off your skateboard.
This same idea applies to running. Plant your foot underneath you and push off behind you and wallah, you have momentum on your side!
2. Flat-footed landings are best.
Heel striking is a major cause of knee pain in runners. Just like in animals, scientists now believe that we aren’t designed to land on a heel unless we are trying to slow down. Like an animal, you are designed to land on the full base of the foot and not on the round knob on the back. Imagining your heel as the ball, landing on it with any abnormal forces (such as a backpack swaying with weight or the momentum of landing on an angled rock) can cause your heel to roll towards any number of directions.
We now are directing runners to land with your weight just an inch or so in front of the heel. If you were to look at the bones of your ankle, we want the foot to land with your weight placement just under this bone. A nice flat foot will help to evenly load the foot and to protect you from stress fractures or overuse injuries as related to abnormal weight load.
3. Stand up Straight!
The days of bending forward at the waist are over. A forward lean causes you to not stand to your full height and subsequently your lung volume is lower as you cannot take the full breath that you might be able to with the support of your torso stabilizers holding you more upright. If you must lean forward, lean forward from the feet and ensure you have a nice open chest and a good straight neck. This keeps the miles from turning you into a rounded tight mess between your shoulder blades as well.
4. Stretch your Adductors.
(the inside of your thighs)
Especially in those who run trails, runners as a group tend to have very tight groin muscles. This issue locks up the pubic bone which is designed to rotate as you walk or run. It may seem like a small issue but I've seen many issues as this then goes on to causes excessive motion at the back of your pelvis at the SI or sacro-illiac joint.
By keeping these muscles loose with stretching and rolling (lay on your belly with your knee out while you roll), you can ensure your stride stays strong and your feet don't run the same line.
Photo Left: Yin yoga has some very gentle stretches to help you to work on keeping these areas nice and loose but don’t forget, you don’t get better if you don’t do your homework!
5. Relax your shoulders.
Tight shoulders are more likely to give you a tight choppy gait. Relaxing them will help you to get more miles in before you feel fatigued and it also cuts down on neck pain and headaches. There are a few matras with running ‘loose.’ You can either think of relaxing the muscles that run right over your shoulders (the trapezius muscles) OR you might think of elongating your neck upwards. Both of these ideas do the same thing in releasing your muscles to allow you to enjoy your workout without having to get into your favorite chiropractor to ensure you aren’t tied up in knots ;-)
Like these ideas? Have more of your own? Don't hesitate to reach out or comment below: I'm honored you are taking the time to read along and to invest in your health (and miles!).
Dr. Lisa Erikson is a medical provider at LifeSport. Excited about her new diagnostic ultrasound, she is a long time runner, LeadWoman Competitor, and Multi-Injury survivor.