By: Rhea Tomlinson (BMR-PT, BA)
Certified in Acupuncture & Dry Needling
RYT 200 hour
If you are training this summer/fall for leisure or running an organized event such as a full or half marathon, 10km or 5km, this blog is for you! Read some tips from our Zen Physiotherapists to stay injury free!
- Choose the right shoes
Running shoes should be comfortable immediately and there should not be a “breaking in” period. If you are not sure what shoe support works for your arch and body, go to a reputable shoe store like the Running Room or Canadian Footwear to be fitted. Further assessment may be needed by a physiotherapist or podiatrist if you have any special considerations or previous injuries. Start wearing your new shoes at the beginning of your training program to gradually get used to them as you increase mileage. DO NOT switch shoes half way through training as this is a major change for the body and should be done when we are at the lowest mileage to avoid injuries.
- Choose the right training program
There are plenty of programs on the internet to choose from or you can consult a trainer or physiotherapist to determine what is best for you. If you are new to running, choose a beginner program to ease you in. Stick to the program asunder training can lead to aches, pains and injuries. If you are a veteran runner beware not to over train as this is another sure way to injure yourself.
- Add a strengthening program to your weekly routine 2-3x/wk
In clinic we often see runners with under active gluteal muscles who are overworking their anterior (quads/hip flexors/shins) or posterior (hamstring/calves) chain musculature to make up for weak power through hip extension. Please note that an appropriate strength program depends on where you are weak; you may need to work on hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors. An assessment by a physiotherapist may be needed to determine a program to suit your specific needs. If you are not in pain, a safe bet is to strengthen all areas. Do not forget the core and upper body which is often neglected by runners.
A hip extension activation exercise Band Bridging is pictured below. This exercise is often good to do prior to starting your run to get the gluteal muscles firing through extension. This does not need to be a long program to be effective.
- Add mobility exercises to the program 3-5x/wk
If you have stiffness in your spine and hips this could lead to injuries by over working other areas of the body such as your feet, ankles, knees and their surrounding musculature. Appropriate mobility exercise prescription varies person to person depending on their needs. Hand Heel Rocks are pictured below to demonstrate a spinal mobility exercise bringing the spine, hips, knees through full flexion and extension. Mobility exercises are best performed before going out to run, warming up the body and encouraging the mobility it needs for an effective run. As with strengthening, this does not need to be a long program to be effective.
Another great way to gain mobility and stretch the full body is through gentle yoga practices such as Yin or Restorative Yoga.
Hand Heel Rocks
- Add speed training/ anaerobic training to your program 1-2x/wk
This can be achieved through many things like running sprints, tabata, Jacobs Ladder or stair sprints, plyometrics such as tuck or box jumps, or you can mix and match each week. Speed training will be especially important if you have a goal time or personal best you are hoping to accomplish for your race or training.
- Take rest days!
The body needs to recover in order to get stronger. Proper recovery from training is essential to staying injury free. Ensure you are sleeping 7-8 hours a night as you train to provide adequate healing of the muscles. Overtraining and running every day does not allow for enough healing time for the body and often leads to injuries.
- Hydrate and nourish your body
Go into your runs well hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout your day after a run. If you are running for an extended period, purchase a hydrapack to hold water or a camelback for a backpack. You can purchase nutrition packs for longer runs to restore glucose (sugars) and electrolytes lost through sweat throughout your run. Note you may need to increase calories as you train. Everybody is different with the types of calories that work for them pre and post run. We recommend following Canada’s Food Guide or consulting a certified dietician for further nutrition advice.
- At the first sign of injury get assessed!
Running through the pain never works (we promise). Clearly something has gone wrong if your body is sending warning signals (PAIN). If you are not sure how to fix it on your own, get assessed by a licensed practitioner such as AT, PT, or Sports Medicine. They are highly trained to assess, diagnose, educate you and modify your program as needed to get you back out there!
If you have any questions in regard to this blog, please reach out to our amazing Zen team on our contacts page!