Strategies to Keep Running Injury Free (GUEST POST)
NOTE FROM COACH CARL:
One of the things that I believe very strongly as a coach is that you can’t be your best as a runner if you’re always dealing with injury issues. That’s why I think having a team of experts that you work with is so important. A big part of my team over the last five years has been Dr. Kate Edwards PT, DPT, OCS. She is a very skilled physical therapist, but just as importantly, she understands runners — she knows the mental side of injuries as much as the physical side. I asked her to write this post so that you can get a fresh viewpoint on injury prevention and I think she nailed it. If you’re local to Atlanta and having trouble staying injury-free with your running, make sure to check Kate out.
Strategies to Keep Running Injury Free!
Dr. Kate Edwards PT, DPT, OCS
CEO / Founder of Precision Performance & Physical Therapy
80 to 90 percent of runners are injured sometime during their running career, AND most runners will become injured in the first three years after they start running. Bummer, isn’t it? Sometimes, injury can’t be avoided, like when you accidentally step in a pothole at mile one of the Peachtree Road Race! However, many injuries can be avoided with proper training, efficient running form and good muscle strength and awareness.
If you are reading Coach Carl’s blog, then I am assuming you are one of the runners that is smart enough not to fall into the improper training bucket by always doing too much too quickly (if not, you may want to contact him!). He does a great job at creating training programs to fit your lifestyle that, IF you follow them (follow the program!), will make you immune to the training errors that are the pitfall of most runners.
Running form is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so. We have learned so much because of all of the research produced about running gait and biomechanics over the last 10 years. It has been found that gait analysis can be helpful for improving efficiency and decrease risk for running injury!
Coaches and physical therapists alike can perform running assessments. However, like in many fields, not all running assessments are created equal. Make sure the person doing your assessment has the knowledge and training to back up what he or she is doing. You don’t want just anyone using an iPad to watch you run, or you will definitely end up in my office!
Muscle awareness and strength are cornerstones of remaining injury free.
Lastly, muscle awareness and strength are cornerstones of remaining injury free. Think of running as, “moving the body’s center of mass forward in the sagittal plane, while stabilizing the rotational and lateral planes, and supporting the body against gravity.” If you think about running using that definition, it becomes very apparent that running is a series of complicated movements – not just running in a straight line. Therefore, you need much more than glute strength to stay out of trouble.
There is more to your story than a weak butt
I can’t tell you how many times I hear some version of, “I have weak glutes: my butt doesn’t fire or my doctor said my knee hurts because I have no glutes,” in my office. There is a lot of truth and research available demonstrating that runners need to have good glute strength, but the glute isn’t everything. If you have been working on your glutes since the end of time and haven’t gotten better, don’t worry: there is more to your story than a weak butt!
Here are three areas you can work on to improve your strength and muscle awareness:
1) Foot and Ankle Stability
Every time our foot hits the ground, it has to absorb and distribute the force from the ground up the kinetic chain. If you do not have good foot and ankle stability, the moment you hit the ground you are in trouble. The arch of the foot acts like the “core” of the foot. If you have been in orthotics forever, wear stability shoes, never walk barefoot or have been told you are an overpronator, then you would benefit from addressing the foot.
For more info, check out my previous blog post: Get to the Core of Foot and Ankle Injuries
We breathe all day every day, but that doesn’t mean we are doing it correctly. Injury, posture and life can change the way we breathe, and over time it can become inefficient and dysfunctional. Breathing is important because it is how we tap into deep core stability. If you don’t use your diaphragm, you aren’t using your core while running.
Want to know more? Check out my previous blog: Breathing and Running
3) Hip Adductor Strength
The hip adductors are probably the most overlooked muscle group for runners. When you perform a single leg squat, your gluteus medius is not the only muscle creating stability – it cannot work alone. The hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) work with the hip abductors, such as the gluteus medius and TFL, to create stability in the lower limb.
If you continue to do glute strengthening and you cannot perform a single leg squat well, you probably have weak hip adductors. Click here for a great hip adductor exercise!
To be able to run is an amazing gift – so keep yourself out there! Listen to your body, your coach and your PT. Good luck implementing these new strategies in your running routine, and feel free to reach out to me if you need help. Sometimes, all you need is to change one thing, and the rest falls into place.
- Heiderscheit, B., Dicharry, J. Running Mechanics from the Lab to the Clinic. in APTA combined sections. 2010. Boston, MA.