In clinic I’ve been seeing an increasing number of patients who are running for the first time as a way of keeping fit and all of them seem to be using the Couch to 5K app. Personally, I think this app is amazing, it builds you up slowly in order to achieve your goal of running 5K. What I love most about it, is how it increases the distance gradually over 12 weeks in very manageable amounts and, as a chiropractor, this is incredibly important as it reduces the risk of injury. It also builds your confidence and you will honestly feel like you will be running 5K in no time at all! If you are thinking of starting running, or have started, but can’t seem to make much progress with it, I honestly urge you to download this app. It’s free too (bonus!).
However, I’m still seeing people picking up little niggles and injuries here and there as they are nearly reaching their 5K goal, and I see how frustrating it is when you’ve done so well. Just this past week I’ve seen ankle sprains, shin splints and Achilles tendonitis which were all related to running.
Many of my patients tell me they take up running as they spend a lot of their day sat down and they want to kick start their fitness again. Which means, when they take up running, they’re suddenly doing two extremes – either sitting for a long time or running without considering that they also need to build up their muscle strength. Think back to a time when you did your first run, you probably felt out of breath because you were not used to exerting yourself like that. Well your muscles are the same: if you’ve spent the last 2 years sat down most days, your leg muscles are also going to need a bit of strengthening to help get accustomed to running and prevent injury.
As many of you know, I also work with track and field athletes at Bristol & West Athletics club. These athletes often represent GB at various competitions and range from sprinters to marathon runners. A lot of my patients in clinic think that these athletes at Bristol & West are worlds apart from them and therefore they couldn’t possibly ever put themselves in the same category, however, let me tell you that athletics pays almost nothing, so these guys are managing full time jobs alongside their training. The only big difference between my pro and semi pro athletes and my Couch to 5K group, is their understanding of the importance of strength training.
Now before you stop reading and decide that strength training isn’t for you which is why you’re running rather than lifting weights in the gym, please consider that research shows that we only need to do as little as 20 minutes of strengthening 2 x a week to reduce risk of injury by 80%! 20 minutes twice a week is manageable; Especially once I show you that all these exercises can be done at home when it’s pouring with rain and you don’t feel like doing your run.
Every single one of these exercises are done without weights, however you can progress them holding either some dumbbells or something similar of weight. Do these exercises twice a week and I promise you will significantly reduce your chance of injury.
- Stand feet shoulder width apart (You may find it’s easier if you turn your feet outwards slightly at around 15 degrees).
- You can either have your arms out in front of you, or across your chest.
- Now imagine you’re going to sit back. You want to bend at the hips and push your bum out as you go down and then start to bend your knees.
- You don’t have to touch the floor with your bum, just go down as far as is comfortable, for most people this is around 90 degrees.
- Ensure your knees don’t go over the front of your feet.
- Push up from the floor, back into the start position.
- 2 sets x 6 reps
- Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart.
- With one leg, take a step forward
- Now bring yourself down to the floor by bending the back knee.
- Your knees must not go over the front of your foot! – Remember you should be an elevator (up and down) NOT and escalator (Forward)
- Return back to the start position and repeat with the other leg
- 4 reps on each leg, 2 sets
SINGLE LEG BALANCE
This is an exercise I give to every single athlete and weekend runner as it is incredibly important in helping prevent ankle injuries and sprains.
Each step is a progression, and you don’t move onto the next stage until you can hold each one for 30 seconds without wobbling.
Also worth mentioning, please make sure you are near something you can take hold of when doing eyes closed stages, as we don’t want injuries from you falling over!
- Start by standing on one leg for 30 seconds
- Stand on one leg, eyes closed, for 30 seconds
- Stand on one leg on an uneven surface (i.e a cushion is perfect for this), for 30 seconds
- Same as step 3, but eyes closed
WOBBLE BOARD EXERCISE
This is the next step after the above exercise, and is great because it incorporates a bit of core strength too – this one you may not be able to do at home if you don’t have a wobble board, so instead you can just do step 3 on some cushions.