TOP 3 THINGS TO PREVENT INJURY WHEN RETURNING TO RUNNING
By Biagio Mazza
Are you thinking about getting back outside and doing some running or jogging? Well if you are we want you to be careful that you don't put yourself at risk for injury. There are three things that we often see that create problems when people go from not running in the winter time to running outside when the weather gets a little bit nicer.
Mistake, or problem number one is, no preparation. So they often go from not running one bit to going outside and running, and many times with no warmup, which we'll talk about as well. But there's no preparation that occurs during those winter months to keep their body moving well so they're actually ready for the activity of running.
Did you know that when you run it can put seven times the amount of force through each leg with each step that you take? So there's a lot of force that goes through the ankles, the knees, the hips, when you run, and if you haven't done any work to prep yourself for that then that can create problems.
I'm going to give you three things that I really like for preparatory activities that you can do to build up your strength and endurance for getting ready to run.
- The first is a body weight squat. All you're doing on a body weight squat is working on slow and controlled lowering down from the ground, really working on driving the hips back first, and working on controlling the squat as you lower, and as you come up. We like to have patients and clients go five seconds down, and then five seconds up. So it puts the muscle on a little bit more tension for a longer period of time. Building up to 30 body weight squats. When you can do 30, and it's easy then you can add some external weights.
- Movement number two that we really like is called a deep squat, or a resting squat. In a deep squat you're really just going to come down into a deep position and hold. You're going to work on building up time, and endurance in this position. You may start out and it be uncomfortable after 10 seconds, 30 seconds, that's okay, we want you to work on building your time up to where if we asked you to you could be down there for 30 minutes if we wanted to, and rest in that position. That will help open up the hips, and give you a much better chance of a more solid movement environment when you go out to run.
- The third activity that we recommend for preparation is a single leg stand with opposite leg reach. So what you're going to do here is pick one leg to stand on, doesn't matter which because you're going to do both. Then you're going to reach forward and reach back. You're working on building endurance and balance as you move back and forth. Work towards 30 reps on one side, and then 30 reps onto the other side.
Common mistake number two that we see with people when they're trying to return from running is having no warmup. They'll go out, they'll pull their knees up a couple times. They'll stretch against a wall once or twice, and they really won't do anything to prep their body right before you run for warmup before you go. So ideally here is how we like to sequence warmups:
- First of all, we like to have people go out and do a little bit of walking first before they do any kind of running. You walk first to do a couple things. One is it gets the heart rate up a little bit, and it also helps to prep the muscles, get them a little bit warmer so they're a little more pliable when we start the warmup process.
- The second thing that we're going to do is work on one of those same movements that we talked about in the preparatory stage, is that deep squat. So you're going to come down into that deep squat position. You're going to put your elbows between your knees and you're going to gently push back and forth just to open the hips up. This helps to create a lot of good mobility, and spacing for the hips to be able create some good motion.
- The third thing that we're going to do is a modified form of what many people know of as the runner's stretch. The runner's stretch, traditionally, is just hands on the wall, and then you hold one leg out behind to stretch. What we're going to do a little bit differently here is to create some movement as we're doing the runner's stretch. So instead of, with that leg back, just holding there, what you're going to do is you're going to gently move back and forth so you feel that stretch band across different parts of the calf to create some more functional mobility for those areas.
The third thing that we see as the biggest make that people occur with running is not having any patience. They'll go from not running at all all winter to running five miles. That puts your body at a lot of risk for potential stress fractures, shin splints, knee pain, ankle problems, or all sorts of things that can create problems later on.
Those are really three of the biggest mistakes we see people make when making the decision to go from not running in the winter time to running once it starts getting a little warmer outside. Be sure to be patient, and prep your body properly to avoid injury.