The following post is prepared by West 4th Physio associate and runner Suzanne Hood
75% of runners get injured every year. Whether your goal is to get faster or just enjoy the sport for life you need to focus on PREVENTION and staying healthy. CORE STRENGTH is critical. Weak muscles are prone to injuries and less resilient to the impact forces of running. Incorporating a core stability program into your routine just 3 x per week can allow you to run more consistently, reach higher weekly mileages safely, endure more challenging workouts, and race faster.
Let’s think about how many steps you take when you run – times that by how many sessions per week, per month, per year. Each time your foot strikes the ground the force is 2 – 2.5x your body weight. Your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back need to be able to withstand this force repeatedly. Enter GLUTES, ABDOMINALS, HIPS and LOWER BACK. These muscles make up your core. The core is the structural foundation. Build a house without a strong structural support and watch it collapse.
Take the GLUTES- perhaps the weakest link I see every day in my runners from recreational to professional athletes. The glutes hold our pelvis steady and level. They extend the hip and propel us forward keeping legs, pelvis, and torso in alignment (trail runner alert: glutes are what power us up hills!). Unfortunately with society’s addiction to sitting the glutes are not as active during the day making our other muscles disproportionally stronger and tighter. These tight muscles (eg the hip flexors) inhibit the glutes and prevent them from firing appropriately. When we run this gluteal “amnesia” causes the leg, knee, and foot to collapse inward. Numerous studies link weak glutes to achilles tendonitis, shin splints, patellofemoral pain or “runners knee”, and IT Band syndrome.
So if you want to continue to run consistently or are looking for the solution that will allow you to power through the later stages of a race take the “top down” vs. “ground up” approach. Exercises like clam shells, bridging, and plank varieties can be a great start. Incorporating the use of mini bands, medicine balls, and stability balls can further challenge the core leading to improved body awareness and correction of imbalances. In the photo I am demonstrating perhaps my favorite exercise for runners – the marching bridge with a mini band above the knee. Great for single leg stability and pelvic control.
Make sure you are working the core across all planes of motion so choose one exercise from each plane of movement. And most importantly make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly and engaging the proper muscles. This may require a visit to a well-qualified health professional and preferably a fellow runner who can get you started or assist in enhancing your training program.
West 4th Physio believes healthy communities are ones that move. We financially support local clubs and initiatives that promote active lifestyles. Our current sponsorships include:
Book an appointment with a West 4th Physio therapist at 6047309478 and help us spread the GoodPhysio word by liking us on facebook and instagram.