Running is the most popular competitive and recreational sport in North America. People love running for many reasons; for one person running provides time alone to plug into the headphones and recharge their personal battery. For others a run can be an opportunity to catch-up with a friend and for others it’s a way to meet new people through running clubs. Some are training for that next race, some for their first race. Running helps people lose or maintain their weight, it helps with cardiovascular health and to lower blood pressure, it helps to create strong muscles, bones and joints. Running helps reduce stress and offers many other health benefits. In short, running is a sport with a multitude of health benefits enjoyed by people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
For an activity that most people were born with the ability to do, the variability in how people run is amazing. One person rotates their trunk and swings their arms or hips like a runway model, while the next person is rigid as a board, the variations are drastic. While most of us will never look as smooth and comfortable as those first few people we see glide by on their way to winning a marathon, there are steps all of us can do to improve our efficiency, reduce our risk of injury and improve our running speed.
Flexibility: Key areas to ensure runners have good flexibility are hip extension, hip rotation, ankles mobility and believe it or not, big toe extension.
Strength: Running requires strength, as our bodies become fatigued our running form breaks down. It is important for runners to have strong hips, a strong core, strong ankles, feet and legs.
Neuro-muscular recruitment: This is physical therapy speak that refers to your body’s ability to correctly use your available strength. Sometimes people have good strength but they have created bad habits in how they run so they are not using their available strength to create stability or efficiency in their running pattern.
Running Form: How we run is as important as everything mentioned above. I grew up a hockey player, I practice skating and shooting a puck from the day I stepped on the ice to the end of my hockey career. How come so few of us practice running? There is a lot more to it than just putting in the miles. If we work on how we run, we can improve our form and become faster, more efficient, safer runners.
Footwear: This area becomes confusing because so much of the information regarding what we should be wearing on our feet is coming from the shoe companies who are trying to get you to buy their newest product. Understanding the basics of what you need to get out of a shoe, or at least who to turn to for help, is important.
Training Intensity: Most endurance athletes train too hard with little knowledge of how our body responds to training or how we should be planning our training sessions. Planning the timing and intensity of our workouts can help runners perform their best at their next big race.
Living Well Therapy is a physical therapy clinic with a dedicated program for runners. We begin with a thorough evaluation process to determine your individual areas of strength, weakness and inflexibility that may be influencing your running. We then perform a multi-angle video gait analysis incorporating slow motion video to analyze the specifics of your individual running gait pattern. We will help you improve your running mechanics by making adjustments to your gait pattern and improving areas of weakness or inflexibility. We also incorporate running form exercises and coaching to help you become a faster, more efficient and safe runner.
For the injured runner, we can help you recover from your injury, determine why you were injured in the first place and work through the above process to make appropriate changes to avoid re-injury.
If you are looking to work through some of the muscle soreness from your training, our massage therapists can help.
Give us a call at 218-481-7603.
From all of us at Living Well Therapy, Happy Running!