Running is one of the most simple, popular and convenient forms of exercise there is. Runners will tell you there nothing quite like it to relieve tension, build fitness, and feel good, however running is a stress on the body and it carries a high risk of injury.
For the committed runner, a forced rest through injury can be disruptive, frustrating and expensive.
In this series of blogs I’ll share the advice, exercises, and resources I give my patients to help them prevent running injuries.
I begin by giving you the 6 key ‘pre-run exercises’ I personally use each time I run. You can do them all within 5 minutes. While there is no scientific evidence to support injury prevention by stretching, I believe these exercises can release tension and help prepare ones mind and body for the exercise ahead. Your freedom of movement and running form will improve when you are tension free, relaxed, and stretched out.
1. Foam Roller – Thoracic Roll
Using a foam roller is an excellent way to diffuse tension through your back, and engage your gluteal, abdominal, and hamstring muscles. Expect to here a few joints click free. Nothing feels better!
2. Spinal flexion stretch
The first of 4 stretches targeting the spinal axis but also taking in other big joints – the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
Hold these stretches for 10-20″ and repeat just twice. (Exercises 2-5).
3. Spinal extension stretch
These stretches will take the spine through all of its planes of motion – fowards/backwards, side to side, and rotation
4. Spinal side bend stretch
Although these exercises primarily target the spinal axis they also benefit other joints such as the hips, knees and shoulders.
5. Spinal rotation stretch
This stretch targets rotation, a key plane of motion for the runner. It also stretches the gluteal muscles and the iliotibial band (ITB).
6. Isometric knee squeeze
Don’t worry about a ball if you don’t have one. Just squeeze your knees together as firmly as you can. Hold for 3″. Repeat twice. You might feel a click of your pubic bone. That’s normal with this technique.
Running is an athletic pursuit and as such carries a risk of injury. As an athlete, stretching is a small but important part of taking care of your body. A simple stretching routine completed before you run can optimise your running performance and help reduce injury.