Hello again friends, welcome to part 2 of the running blog! The best part of the running program I previously posted (Running Series Part 1: How to Become a Runner and Actually Love It) is the fact that it’s relatively safe for anyone to just start. That being said, I think a good biomechanical (how your body moves) assessment is always a great idea before starting any new fitness program. An assessment performed by a physiotherapist will give you as the patient a good idea of your own body, and insight into any injuries that you may be predisposed to.
When I’m performing an assessment, there are a few things I like to take a look at. The general rule of thumb is that if there’s something biomechanically “off” with how you walk, or stand on one leg, there will definitely be an issue when you start running. This is because you have more forces acting on your body when you run (~250% of your body weight!), so whatever your joints/muscles can’t handle in the previously mentioned positions, running will inevitably make worse.
In addition to the increased forces acting on your body, walking differs from running in regards to support phases. When we walk, we are supported by both legs, and are only briefly standing on one leg during the phase of swinging our opposite leg forward. When we run, we are always supported by one limb. Therefore, we need to train balance and control in single leg stance to be efficient runners.
A good therapist should examine how you walk with your shoes off, and pay close attention to what is happening at your feet, ankles, and hips for the reasons I mentioned above. The average person will not be able to pick up on biomechanical intricacies, but the exercises I’ve posted below will be a great start for if you’re looking to support your joints during your new fun running program.
Our joints operate best when they are mobile but stable. This means that they have flexibility to move, and are capable of controlling movement. If you can’t control the movement, you are predisposed to injury. As my wise personal friend Ice Cube says, you better check yourself before your wreck yourself. Or, you know, have a physio check yourself.
The main muscle group I feel like I rant about on a daily basis are the glutes. They are our primary hip muscles, and we tend to have poor control over them. The exercise below is pretty awesome at isolating glutes, so that you can create a better mind/body connection to your bum!
EXERCISE 1: Knee to chest bridge
Single leg bridge, knee to chest: I love this exercise because with one knee up to the chest, we take away the ability of the back to arch. If you feel this exercise mostly in the hamstrings, bring your foot closer towards your bum. This will create less hamstring activation.
- Squeeze your bum/glutes
- Lift your hips off the ground
- Make sure your hip bones remain level through you lifting
- Control the movement back down
Once you start to feel those glutes working, add in this other exercise.
EXERCISE 2: RDL/Toe touch
Alignment is super important for this exercise. I want to see:
- Level hip bones,
- Your knee in line with your second toe (make sure your knee does not dive inwards at all)
The movement is primarily a hip hinge exercise. Nothing else should move through your back or your legs as you stick your bum out, and your bum is exactly where you should feel your muscles working. Once you have good control over that, I like to add in a touch off to the side of the foot to increase lateral control from the hip.
EXERCISE 2A: Hip Hinge + lateral toe touch
EXERCISE 3: Side plank leg lift
- Get in side plank position with one knee down
- Keep hips level and core stable
- Tilt toe downwards to the ground slightly and lift leg
- Where to feel it– side of the bum, where your back pocket would be. This is your glute med muscle
Happy Exercising and Running!!