The New Year brings potential for new fitness goals, new PR’s, new races as well as the potential for new injuries. We promise ourselves that we are going to strengthen more, stretch more and prepare more. We sign up for Yoga, Pilates, and weight classes in hopes to better prepare our bodies for the race season. However, as Spring approaches and training volumes increase, the strengthening and stretching routines designed to prevent injury are performed with less frequency.
The key to remaining injury free is consistency in several areas: flexibility, core stability, lower extremity strength, and quality technique. Keep consistent with these 5 drills and exercises to avoid injury this year. Try each of the below exercises one time per week.
Flexibility: The downward dog stretch is a classic yoga exercise that covers several muscle groups. It especially stretches the hamstring and hip muscles that shorten with prolonged seated work. Keep your back flat and hold the stretch for 3-5 slow breaths.
Strength: To address more running muscles than any other exercise, perform a single leg squat. To decrease the stress to your knees try lightly holding onto a doorknob or TRX Suspension system to keep your knee behind your ankle joint. Make sure to maintain good alignment of the kneecap with your second toe and bend your knee until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Start with 3 sets of 5 reps and build to 3 sets of 15 reps.
Core stability: Multi planar planks and resisted side-stepping keep our trunk solid to better improve our ability to absorb shock and provide a stable foundation for our extremities to propel us forward. Hold each plank position for 10 seconds and switch positions without taking a break for three sets. Wrap a band around your ankles, slight bend knees with good alignment over second toe and side step for 20 yards going both directions. Try 3 laps of the side steps.
Cadence Check: At least once per week take the time to check your running cadence. Count your strides on one foot for 30 seconds and multiply by 4. Try to keep your RPM’s at 170-180 strides per minute for more efficient technique and less knee stress.
If you have any questions, have pain preventing you from enjoying your running, or you are interested in more personal and specific programs, please contact your local Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapist.