May 16

Spring Into Running

Now that spring has arrived and the weather is beginning to get warmer, many people are anxious to start or get back into running. Running is a great cardiovascular exercise, inexpensive and a great way to stay healthy. It helps to keep our bones strong and is a way to relieve stress. Regardless of age or physical ability, everyone is capable of running with the appropriate education. running

Running commonly leads to aches and pains in new and seasonal runners when not done correctly. Most people push themselves too hard too quickly which makes them susceptible to injury. Training errors (running too far or too quickly) is the leading cause of back, hip, knee and foot injuries. Pushing the body too quickly will overload the body’s tissues. The body is capable of adapting to the mechanical stresses caused by running but training needs to be gradual so the muscles and other tissues of the body are not overloaded. This can be accomplished by slowly progressing your running routine each week. For example, the first few weeks of running should begin with a run/walk cycle (1 min run, 1 min walk). Overtime you then increase your running cycle until you are at a continuous run for 20-30 minutes. The body will easily adapt to this type of training regimen. People also often forget to modify their routine when they begin running on different terrain. If you are used to running on a treadmill all winter, make sure your runs are shorter if you decide to run outside.

A female road runner runs down a road at dusk at Independence Pass.Proper running technique is also important in helping to decrease the risk of associated running injuries. Research has shown that runners who habitually land on their heels when running have significantly higher rates of repetitive stress injuries compared to runners who land on the balls of their feet. This is true because hitting hard on your heels increases the amount of force placed on the knees and hips. Poor running techniques can be corrected by modifying the length of your stride and pace when running. Muscle imbalances should also be addressed if weak or overactive muscles contribute to poor running mechanics.

Research is currently looking at how the shoes you wear impacts the amount of stress placed on muscles and joints of the body. Shoes with lots of cushioning (particularly at the heel) help to offload pressure on the feet; however, more load is transferred to your knees, hips and low back. This suggest that people who suffer from knee/hip pain when running should consider wearing a lighter and less thick shoe (now referred to as minimalist shoes).  Thick cushioned shoes have also been shown to change your natural biomechanics when running and promote heel striking. This overall leads to an inefficient running style and performance. Depending on your running style and current or past injuries, the right shoe and fit can be deterunning-injuryrmined to minimize the risk of injury.

If you are a new runner, battling a current running injury, or interested in improving your running style and performance, visit your physiotherapist to have your shoes and running gait assessed. With the right education and guidance, you can easily develop your running skills and enjoy the sport of running.

– Jennifer Smith, PT.

Do you want to encourage a loved one to become healthier? Consider a gift certificate. We offer gift certificates for both massage therapy and physiotherapy. They also make great birthday presents!

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