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Kevin, Beconsfield

Running – The Big 5 to Consider


When it comes to running events, there are some key factors that will affect how efficiently you are able to train and recover.  In some cases spare-time for training comes at a premium it’s important that you train smart by setting yourself up to succeed in every session you do.

Here’s our big 5:

  1. Calf Mobility
  2. Hip / Pelvis / Lower Back Strength
  3. Suitable Footwear
  4. Cross-training
  5. Rest & Recovery

 

Calf Mobility

Calf muscle restriction can limit the range of motion at the ankle joint.  This may seem relatively insignificant but the effect on your movement patterns can be really widespread.  If the shin bone can’t move straight over the ankle joint as it should do, your body will try to find a different route.  Typically this comes in the form of increased movement through the subtalar joint, the joint responsible for pronation and supination of the foot.

In the event of an increase in subtalar pronation, the knees will get pulled inwards, disengaging the gluteal muscles and destabilising the hips and pelvis.  As you can imagine, this leaves you open to any number of issues around the lower back, hips, knees or ankles.

Keeping your calf muscles supple and ankle movement free will at least help to reduce the risk of some of these symptoms.

Hip & Lumbopelvic Image

 

Hip / Pelvis / Lower Back Stability

This can be intrinsically linked to our first point, so typically you may find you need to do a little bit of both!

In effect, this is the ‘top-down’ theory.  The Gluteal muscles are the powerful group that help to extend and rotate your hip.  When your foot is in contact with the ground, these muscles help to stabilise your pelvis and keep your knee in line with the ankle, particularly when you are loading on one leg.

Weakness or dysfunction in this muscle group can lead to poor pelvic control and an inward drop of the knee.  This in-turn can result in over-pronation of the feet when weight bearing.

 

Suitable Footwear

When it comes to buying trainers, more stability isn’t always the answer.  Shoes typically come with varying levels of cushioning and support.

We regularly see people buying highly supportive shoes under the impression that this structure will give them a helping hand when running.  However, if your foot works efficiently on its own, this support can push it into an un-natural position and actually end up increasing your injury risk.

In addition, we see many people who have been diagnosed with “over-pronation” or “flat-feet” and thus prescribed a supportive shoe.  The most important thing to identify in cases like this is where that pronation is coming from.

If it is a case that the feet are unstable and need supporting, by all means use a supportive shoe.  However if the foot is being driven into that position by muscle tightness or weakness in another area (as mentioned earlier), a supportive shoe will not make a difference.

Getting a gait analysis from a qualified practitioner is able to look at the whole body will be the best way to highlight this properly.

 

Cross-training

Believe it or not, even when training for endurance events, more miles isn’t always the most important focus of training.

Cross-training will allow you to continue to increase your cardiovascular fitness whilst reducing the repetitive loads place on your body.

We are big advocates of having some form of strength / mobility sessions built into your training program.  It gives you a great opportunity to identify and iron-out any weaknesses, and if used correctly, significantly increase your running efficiency.

When it comes to endurance events, efficiency is the key.  Put simply, greater efficiency per step leads to a reduction in wasted energy, leaving more energy in the tank to push you to the finish line!  Over the course of a marathon, it is estimated you will take upwards of 30,000 steps.  That’s a lot of energy saved if you are efficient!

Mix a good running program with a targeted strength and mobility session and add some running technique drills, and you will be one your way to cross-training yourself to PB!

 

Rest & Recovery

It may sound surprising to say that this is one of the most important factors to consider…but it is very rarely thought about at all!

Your recovery should focus on replenishing your body ready for the next session.  It’s vitally important that your recover well, to make sure that you don’t start your next session already depleted from your last.  There’s only so long you’ll be able to keep it together.

You need time to recover.  Write it into your training program and stick to it! Don’t make the mistake of feeling you need to “catch-up” on training, by removing portions of your recovery.

Recovering well should typically involve some foam roller and stretching work to assist in maintaining mobility, as well as considering your nutrition following training to make sure your muscles get the nutrients they need to regenerate.

In addition, some regular maintenance massage with a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist will help to identify areas that need work, before they turn into injuries.

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