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running injuries

foot pain, Health, running

How to Run Better, The Basics

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There are a few easy things that everyone can apply to their running to decrease injury, pain and simply make running easier and faster! Today we are simply going to show you how to run better

This is perfect for those of you that have regular niggles or if you have plateaued with your running and need a way to step it up. So here is your easy guide on to how to run better and improve your run!

running cadence 1801: Cadence:

This is basically the number of steps that you take per minute and for best efficiency, this should be 90 steps per minute on each foot (180 total per minute). To achieve this, first of all, you need to measure what your current cadence is. You can do this by counting the amount of steps your right foot takes in one minute.

Try then increasing your rate (if needed) and time again in another 5 minutes. The trick is to think like you are running on an icy or slippery surface and your heels are coming up behind you. This could well feel awkward to do at first and can take weeks to get used to, but once you get used to it, running will feel much easier.

Tip: A great way to improve your running cadence and run better is to use a metronome (some examples here)

how to stop overstriding2: Don’t stride out:

When striding out the foot lands on the heel and with the leg relatively straight out. This creates a braking force up through the leg and acts to slow you down, meaning YOU have to work harder.

Run better by kicking your heels up more – don’t run with straight legs!

 

3: Think smooth, light and easy:

If you look at the best medium to long distance runners you will see they have very little upward head movement (less bobbing up and down). This means less wasted energy! So to run better, we need to lean our body weight forward more and imagine projecting yourself forward and slightly up. Practice standing 1 meter in front of a wall and leaning forward through bending at your ankles until you are about to fall forward and then come back again in order to get a feeling of shifting your body weight forward.

Exercise: Practice standing 1 meter in front of a wall and leaning forward through bending at your ankles until you are about to fall forward and then come back again in order to get a feeling of shifting your body weight forward.

Remember – Perseverance is key with this! You will feel like you can just keep running and running when this becomes second nature – and then you tell others how to run properly – I still find it amazing that no one gets taught how to run!

Lastly, check out the video below of what I think is some close to perfect (no one is perfect) running:

YouTube player

 


running

Preventing Running Injuries: The Gold Standard

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Running is one of the easiest ways to get exercise and improve our health. You don’t need any fancy equipment, gym membership or even a lot of time, you can just get out the door and go. Because of this, running is becoming one of the most popular ways to exercise and with that, we are getting a lot of running injuries.

And do you know what? 60-70% of running injuries and avoidable.

If we asked a bunch of people in the street they would list of a few possible causes of running injuries such as:

  • Shoe type
  • Foot type
  • Flexibility
  • lack of stretching

We hear that all the time right, “foot pain because my feet are too flat”, “back pain because my hamstrings and too tight”, “knee pain because my shoes aren’t supportive enough”.

Well actually, that’s not true at all; there has been no proven link between foot type and injury and the only shoe that prevents injury is the one that is most comfortable to you – it doesn’t matter what foot type you have.

So the real cause of 60-70 of running injuries?

Training Error

Prevent Running Injuries, PhysioThere is no evidence for stretching, running surface, warming up or cooling down in helping with prevent injury but there is a lot of evidence for injuries caused by an imbalance between training and recovery.(1)

So 2/3rd of all running injuries could be possibly avoided if we just had the right amount of recovery time to go with our training. It’s why the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that we should be training HARDER and SMARTER, meaning that yes, you should push yourself in training as that is how we improve but then you need the time in between for your body to change and improve.

And what is Runnersworld’s simplest strategy for making the biggest difference to performance? not surprisingly, it’s Rest and Recovery.

So there it is, the biggest thing you can do to improve performance isn’t to running and far and as much as you can. It’s training smart, working in rest days around your training and following these tips:

  • Get plenty of sleep. The Oregon Project athletes typically get 10–12 hours of sleep per night, as well as another hour nap most days
  • Fuel your body right. The 30 minutes after a run is the time when your body refuel the best so get some cards and protein in ASAP (ideally at a ratio of 4:1
  • Have training holidays. once or twice a year, have a week off from training to refresh the mind and body. It’s better than being forced to take one due to injury or exhaustion right?
  • Have rest days every week. This doesn’t mean you need full rest, but relative rest, it can be swimming, biking or a core day for example


Lower limb, running, Shin Pain

Shin Splints Treatment and Exercises

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runningShin splints is the most common lower limb injury in athletes and can lead to large blocks off training and serious injuries such as stress fractures if ignored. Here you will find out, what it is, what causes it and how to treat and rehab it YOURSELF with effective self treatment methods and exercises.

Shin splints is an Umbrella term that describes pain along the inside border of your tibia(shin) and covers a number of pathologies. The most common and Injury most often associated with Shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome.

shin splint painMedail Tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) Is the most common Injury in runners (Lopes et al 2012) affecting 9.5 percent of all runners, coming in just ahead of achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitits.  In MTSS pain is felt along the inside border of your shin bone (tibia), it is tender to touch and the tender/ lumpy area is larger than 5cms.

MTSS is caused by repetitive contraction of the calf muscles causing excessive stress on the tibia. The calf muscles (namely the soleus, flexor digitorum longus and tibialis posterior) attach onto the inside border of the tibia, and the repeated pulling from any of these muscles at their attachment causes micro-tears which causes inflammation, pain and excess tissue build up.

Now this generally happens due to one or a number of the following reasons:

  • Sudden increase in training that your body isn’t used to.
  • Change on footwear or training surface, eg. going barefoot (minimalist running) or changing from flats to hill running.
  • Poor hip control causing excessive internal rotation.
  • Over pronated foot type.
  • Poor running form (See Ironing out your running).

 

Differentail Diagnosis:

Stress reaction and stress fracture

These also cause shin pain and can be causes by MTSS or occur by themselves due to over training so it is important to have these ruled out by your Local physio if there is pain when you: tap on your shin bone, jump on your heel or if the pain is localised to one spot on the shin.

 

MTSS is far too often ignored and put aside as calf tightness until it is far worse than is should have got, which means some serious time off training and a lot of money spent on rehab. Below we are going to run through exercises and self-treatment that will both help heal your MTSS/shin splints AND prevent them happening again.

 

Exercises: All of these need to be done 2 x daily if you have shin splints.

calf stretch1. Calf Stretch:  Drop your heel off a step and hold it for 1 minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTSS shin splints self treatment

2. Foam roll your calf: Position as shown in the picture to get as much weight through the roller as you can. Spend 2-3 minutes slowly rolling your whole calf – ignore the pain!

 

Tip: You can also give yourself and self-massage, which is really effective at reducing tension and getting right to the point!

 

 

 

glut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibility

3. Sling stretch for hip range: Hold for 1 minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge - increase leg strength, glute activation and decrease back pain.

4. Single leg bridge for hip stability: 

Hold for 5 seconds, 2 x 12 reps each side.

 

 

 

 

 

Single leg Squat, hip stability and strength

5. Single leg squat for lower limb strength and stability: To make it harder and better for lateral stability, keep your free leg out to the side.

Do 2 sets of 12reps each side.

 

 

 

 

 

Make the above exercises a routine even when pain-free!

Self treatment:

The main technique that will benefit you is self deep tissue massage. Check out this post for a easy video demo of this.

 

Tinker with your training:

– Decrease your training load to allow healing to take place

– decrease hill running and running or walking on hard surfaces

– Take a good look at your shoes and consult a Podiatrist of Physio re your foot mechanics.

– Once pain has gone, start SLOWLY building up your training again.

 

 

So there you have it, your guide to Shin Splints Treatment! Take some time to check out some other great posts that will help athletes and runners out a huge amount in preventing lower limb injuries as it is ALWAYS better to prehab!

Iron out your running – run faster, easier and injury free.

Quick balance and stability test.

Glute activation – the missing link

Please Share and like and let me know how you get on!


Core strengthening, running, Spine

The importance of Core Stability on injury

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core strength minimizes lower limb injuryHaving a stable core and pelvis has huge benefits through-out the body, including laying a stable base for your legs to work off. This means more bio-mechanical efficiency, less injury AND less pain.

In order to do any lower limb exercise well, including running, squat, weight lifting, tennis etc, you need to be in control of your core. If you don’t have a stable base, everything working off it is going to struggle and compensate. This can lead to tight hip flexors, ITB syndrome, patellofemoral pain, ankle sprains, niggles and more.

Imagine a tennis shot, for example. Your are stepping forward and driving off your back foot while at the same time swinging your raquet forward to strike the ball. If you core isn’t in control then you are losing force between your legs and arms – losing that strength of the drive from your legs.

Core strength makes your body stronger, not just your abs, by conserving and transmitting energy.

Just for clarification, as “core” can mean different things to different people. Core for me is your Lumbo-Pelvic stability. The combined control and strength of your spine and pelvic muscles.

Quick self test: A great way to test and see how good your Lumbo-pelvic stability is yourself is to do the Single Leg Squat Test. If you see your hip dropping or knee tracking inwards, then you are at risk or injury and need to get started strengthening ASAP.

 

Poor core stability can also lead to and contribute to all sorts of injuries and pain, including in your:

  • Low back
  • Shoulder and neck
  • Knee and hip

 

So how do we sort this problem you ask?

Below is an exercise program to get started on that will really make a difference if you stick to it. I also fully recommend finding a good Physio in your area to have your specific deficits assessed to get some manual therapy to speed things up.

Exercises to improve Core stability:


1. Single leg Bridge:Bridge 1 leg - glute activation, leg strength and core stability. the best exercise for hip stabiltiy, great for runners

Position: lying on your back, bend one knee so that your heel is close to your backside and straighten the other leg as above so that your thighs are horizontal. Your arms can be crossed over your chest or down by your side to make it easier.

Action: Pushing through your grounded heel, lift your bum off the ground as above, straighten your back and hold for 30 seconds then lower and repeat on both sides.

 

2. Clam Plus: (Do them right and they are surprisingly hard!)Clam exercise plus - gluteus medius strengthening, pelvic stability, leg strength

Position: Side lying  with top elbow on the ground, knees bent, ankles together and importantly the top knee sticking out 1-2 inches further that the bottom knee.

Action: Making sure not to let your pelvis rotate backwards and keeping your ankles together – lift your top knee up roughly 20cm and lower down in control. Reps: Build up to 50 reps on each side.

If you have found in the past that normal clams don’t do much for you, try it this way with your hip s rolled forward more to isolate Glute Med better and get less Tensor Fasciae latae activation.

 

3. Double or single leg squatSingle leg Squat, Glut Med activation - hip stability and strength:DL squat
Try performing the Single leg squat, but if you are too unstable (cannot stop your knee going inwards) then start with the double leg squats.

Single leg: 2 sets of 12 reps

Double leg: 3 sets of 12 reps

Tips: stick your bottom out like you are going to sit down and keep your knees out!

 

4. Front Plank: 
plank

Hold this for 60  seconds (if you can, otherwise build up to this).

Tip: do not hang on your hip flexors, tuck your bottom in and bring your hip bones up towards your head.

 

 

 

 

5. Side plank: side plank

Again aim for 60 seconds here, keeping your body straight!

 

Too easy? Add in leg raises to this – Raising the top leg straight up and down, building up to 50.

 

 

Do this short program  DAILY and stick to it for at least 6 weeks -Let me know how you go!

 

You may also be interested in:

Iron out your running – What you never got taught

Get your spine moving

Smash your Glutes


Back pain, foot pain, groin pain, Knee pain, Lower limb, running, training

Quick Stability and Balance test

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Here we discuss an easy test you can do in front of a mirror at home to see why you are having hip, knee or back painGood lower limb stability and control comes straight from your gluteal muscles, and if these aren’t functioning right – your back, hip, knees and feet better watch out!

Stability of the Lower Limb ultimately derives from your hip. The muscles surrounding your hip work to keep your entire body upright on top of your leg and vice versa work to maintain correct alignment of your leg. I see far too many injuries caused by poor hip stability, such as:

  • Patello-femoral pain (knee pain)
  • IT band syndrome
  • Femoral acetabular impingement (hip pain)
  • Iliopsoas tendinopathy (groin pain)
  • Patella tendinopathy
  • and much more hip, knee and foot repetitive strain injuries!

The simple Single Leg Squat is a fantastic test to look at Lower limb biomechanics and control and can easily show you why you are getting pain or tightness down the chain,

The test:

This is best done in front of a mirror or video camera.

Position: Standing on one leg with your arms straight out in front of you (Your other leg can be out in front or bent beside your other leg but never touching the ground or other leg).Single leg Squat, hip stability and strength

Action: squat down like you are going to sit on an imaginary chair behind you. Stop and come back up when you reach your challenge point (before you fall over).

Repeat 10 times (If you can!), then start again on the other leg.

What to look for:

  • Your knee should track straight above your foot, towards your big toe. Typically with poor hip stability you will see the knee going inwards or shaking – If it does this your glutes are not firing or strong enough.
  • No hip drop – your pelvis should stay level (horizontal) if it drops – we have a problem!
  • Your knee bends right forward past your toes – you are relying far too much on your quads and not using your Glutes and so leaving your leg vulnerable.
  • Can’t do 10 reps or you start doing any of the above three towards the end – your Glutes have poor endurance.

 

So, how do we improve your results? See my post on Exercises to Improve Glut activation and strength and re-test every two weeks to check your progress.

 

Share and Like please!


running, training

Minimalist and Barefoot running – Must know exercises

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Barefoot running – Is booming at the moment all around the world, here we will discuss a little about it and how to transition to and run bare foot safely to avoid common running injuries such as shin splints, foot and knee pain. It is so important to do it properly and invest in your body – and as a bonus your running will get easier!

Having recently read the book “born to run”, it really has altered my way of thinking about running and also backed up a lot of what I was thinking already. The great thing about this book is that is has got people talking and discussing proper running bio-mechanics and the modern running shoe.

I have heard a lot recently that barefoot running and minimalist shoes are a fad. But ask yourself this: Are running shoes the real fad and barefoot running the tried and true way to run?

Humans have been running and hunting barefoot for over 2 million years, but only using running shoes for the past century. This is hugely thought provoking and it is great to see people’s perceptions changing. Have a watch of the below video in its entirety and let me know your opinion as it is a great summary of the argument for barefoot running.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2JWUhW5yRdI

Now I am not saying minimalist or barefoot running is the answer to your problems and pains when exercising but it is certainly something that can be if you go about it the right way. This is purely because wearing these supportive running shoes takes a large amount of the sensory receptors in your foot out of the picture and so your body is less aware if you are landing badly and doing yourself damage – that is the main flaw in modern running shoes. Try taking off your shoes and running barefoot for a short distance (on grass to start) and notice how your running style changes – no longer putting so much impact through your heel!

Now if you are looking to try barefoot running /minimalist running OR are having trouble making the transition, continue reading as going about it the wrong way can certainly lead to injuries and pain.

1. You cannot jump straight from your supportive runners to a pair of Vibrams or the like. You need to gradually transition your shoes so that your body can adapt and build the necessary muscle endurance.

2. Gradually build up your miles.

3. Start training your muscles to do the work so that you don’t need padded arches! Perform these two exercises regularly throughout the day and once you can do them easily – then you can start building up your minimalist running.

Exercise # 1. Heel raises: perform 36 heel raises on each foot (one at a time). Tips: do one raise each second and have one finger placed on a wall for minimal support. You need to be able to comfortably and easily do this amount – so build up and persevere.

Exercise # 2. Clams+: Not your usual clams – these isolate and strengthen your gluts to enhance the bio-mechanics of the lower limb.Clam exercise plus - gluteus medius strengthening, pelvic stability

Technique: lie on your side with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your shoulders, hips and ankles are in alignment. now place your upper elbow on the ground in front and have your upper knee stick 2 inches out over your lower knee so that your hips do not roll backwards. nearly there!

Now keeping your ankles together, lift your upper knee 8 inches (20 cm) and then lower down again, making sure you control it. Start with doing 10 reps on each side and build up to 36 (you will really feel the burn in your gluteus medius).

These two exercises can be done little and often throughout the day.

4. Take a look at my recent post on ironing out your running technique as these tips are a must for all runners.

Give it a go and persevere!

Enjoy =-)


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