Ever since I became a Corrective Exercise Specialist a few years ago, I always watch how people walk, run, sit, lift weights…… Whatever they are doing, I am scrutinizing posture and form. This one particular morning was no different. I’m not a running coach, but watching the dozen or so runners by the river that morning was interesting.
Out of the dozen or so runners, only one person looked like he had some type of formal training. His form was as perfect as it gets and he looked as though he was just gliding over the pavement. Others were almost fun to watch flailing arms, odd foot strikes, and high impact on the pavement. One man out there should not have been running at all. He was wearing knee supports, landing hard, and was very obviously running in pain. He was compensating for the pain by running with very awkward posture. He will not only make his current injury worse, by compensating he is setting himself up for creating a new injury.
If you enjoy running, make sure you are using proper form right down to proper foot strike. You’ll want to maintain a short, quick stride. Over-striding will set you up for injury. Pay close attention to knee alignment as well. Your foot strikes should be under your knee and not in front of it in order to reduce the stress on your knees. It does not matter whether your forefoot or your heel strikes first. The most important part is that your foot is under your knee. This is especially important when running downhill. If you are serious about running, you might want to hire a running coach for at least one or two sessions.
Core strength is important for everything you do in life, especially running and other physical activities. For runners, you’ll want to pay close attention to strengthening your glutes as well as your abdominal muscles in order to help you maintain proper posture even when you’re tired. The plank and floor or ball bridges are excellent core exercises that can be done performed every day.
If you have an injury, take time off from running so that you allow your body to heal and do not set yourself up for another injury. Walking is also an excellent form of exercise, especially during the rehab phase of an injury (depending upon the injury of course).
I am big on foam rolling in order to prevent injury. Areas you should focus on as a runner include, but are not limited to: calves, peroneals (aka outer calf), hamstrings, quadriceps, IT band (aka outer thigh), inner thighs, and gluteal muscles.
So, if you are one of those who loves to run, get out there and do it, but make sure you are doing it right. If you do happen to sustain an injury, take some time off to let it heal.