Don't Run Yourself into The Ground
3 Simple Tips for Becoming a More Efficient, Injury-Free Runner
Running is an often-encouraged cornerstone of health and fitness, so it’s no wonder that more and more people are achieving their physical and race goals, while others are using running as a mental release. This is awesome, but widespread running injuries are not!
According to Runner’s World magazine, 70 percent of competitive and recreational runners get injured. Of those injuries, 42 percent occur to the knee, 17 percent to the foot/ankle, 13 percent to the lower leg, and 11 percent to the pelvis.
Why is this happening? Overuse injuries can occur from poor running form, weak supporting musculature, and inappropriate training methods. The good news is, I believe that anyone can run efficiently with practice and by building a solid endurance and strength base. Here’s how:
Tip #1: Start Slow
Most running injuries occur from starting too fast and performing too many miles without building a solid base. My go-to protocol for anyone beginning a running program is the Maffetone Method of heart rate training. This protocol has you perform at a sub-maximal heart rate (180 minus your age) for 30-plus minutes. It seems kind of funny, but it is not easy to keep your heart rate down while running. It takes discipline and humility to slow down when your heart rate wants to spike, but the payoffs are huge.
The benefits of performing the Maffetone Method versus running at a faster pace include utilizing fat for fuel and preventing injury, running burnout, and adrenal/hormone burnout. I encourage you to try this method 2-3 times per week and track your progress with Map My Run or your chosen app.
Tip #2: Build Your Base Muscles
Building specific muscle groups can do wonders for making you a faster runner and preventing injuries. When designing a program for a runner, I focus on hip and knee strength and mobility, core strength, and feet. A few essential exercises to add into your routine are Band Walks, Single Leg Dead Lifts, and Bird-Dogs.
Tip #3: Take Small Steps on the Ball of Your Foot
Many knee, hip, and ankle injuries occur from overstriding. This simply means taking too big of steps. When we overstride we often heel strike, putting a lot of strain on the back of the knee, hips, and ankles. An easy way to avoid this is to practice taking smaller steps, toes forward, on the ball of your foot. Do this while running and during your everyday walking about — no extra routine needed!
These few simple steps can go a long way in helping you maintain a safe and successful running practice. Wishing you happy, healthy trails!
Essential Exercises for Runners
(in top photo) In a squatting position, begin with band above your knees, toes forward. Focus on driving your knees out and engaging your glutes.
Moving laterally, take a big step with your leading leg and a small step with your back leg.
After 15 repetitions, switch sides. Do three sets per side.
Single Leg Dead Lifts
Stand straight with good posture and a slight bend in your right knee.
Hinge forward from hips, extending back leg and focusing on maintaining a flat back. Return to starting position.
After 10 repetitions, switch sides. Do three sets per side.
Beginning on all fours, extend opposite arm and opposite leg straight out, engaging the glute. Return to starting position.
Repeat on the other side.
Do three sets of 10 alternating repetitions per side.