Last week we posted a great video about active isolated stretching which helps prevent injuries and promotes faster recovery. But injury prevention is more than just stretching, it should also include proper rest week to week, a supplemental strength routine and running workouts that are personalized towards your goals and based on your running history and current fitness.
Beyond the tools available that we usually cover to help prevent injuries, every runner should also do a little self-inspection from time to time to gauge how their body is holding up. The key is to catch an imbalance or area of weakness in advance before it becomes a full blown injury. Running Times featured a great article titled, “How’s Your Running Body” by Phil Wharton that shows how you can quickly test the structural integrity of your running form. Below are the key elements of your running form the tests will measure.
THE PARTS OF THE WHOLE
1) POSTURAL ALIGNMENT: Any deviation from optimal alignment will reduce efficiency and lead to musculoskeletal injuries.
2) RANGE OF MOTION: Flexibility is crucial to ensuring complete mobility throughout the running motion. Limited range of motion inhibits the body’s ability to complete the full running gait cycle, thereby displacing forces and causing imbalances.
3) JOINT INTEGRITY STRENGTH: Your body must mobilize the forces of landing with 2.5–5 times body weight on every step; multiply that by the number of steps per mile, the number of miles run per year and the number of years you’ve been running, and you can begin to grasp the impact that your runner’s body endures. To assist the body in properly handling these forces, strength is required, particularly at the joint intersections and tendinous attachments, which serve as the body’s hinges or fulcrums.
4) MUSCLE ACTIVATION: The nervous and muscular systems work in concert; to move efficiently in forward motion, activation of your posterior muscles (gluteals, hamstrings, lower back) is required. The muscles must first be strong and functioning well before they can adequately “fire.” Active-isolated flexibility and strengthening, dynamic range-of-motion exercises and form drills will begin this process of muscle activation and reinforce or “cue” these proper movement patterns in the body.
5) BIOMECHANICS: The integration of correct postural alignment into the running movement requires attention and thought. Some basic concepts are: run tall, making sure that your neck and shoulders are in alignment slightly behind you; land on your forefoot to midfoot with your foot landing directly under your center of gravity; stay light on your feet; stay low to the ground, without shuffling, yet don’t bounce or “prance.” This optimal positioning will keep your power to the ground and propel you forward in an efficient manner.
Check out the full article and learn these important exercises.