Improve Your Run

Running is THE most affordable and convenient way to exercise, but it can cost us pain along the way if we’re not careful. Physical Therapist Mark Anderson has the do’s and don’ts to follow to keep YOU enjoying a pain free run.

1. Don’t
Heels first à With a good pair of cushioned shoes this pattern is very inviting, but lends its self to a braking force with every step, it would be equivalent to hitting the brakes on your car. You body has to overcome this sudden “stop”-force and move “over” to the next step.

Land on the ball of the foot à Adjust your step to avoid that initial heel strike and aim to land on the middle of your foot bringing your feet underneath you as you run. This may feel awkward at first, but with training, good direction, and maybe modifying your footwear this can be a very nature and new inviting step pattern.

2. Don’t
Long strides à Reaching out with each step to try to cover more ground feeds into this heel first pattern or running. Again this results in a stopping or “braking” motion that is not only inefficient to the bodies mechanics, but also results in large impact forces that the body will need to absorb, usually resulting in injury.

Shorten you stride à Moving you feet more underneath you shortens you stride and results in less of the stopping or braking mentioned above. Further research shows that with this shorten stride pattern there is less up and down bouncing and improved posture that has been found to reduce running related injuries.

3. Don’t
Get caught up in one particular shoe à All too often we rely heavily on our shoes and form almost a bond with them. Shoes are an important tool to running comfortably but should be viewed as the tools they are. Their technology is important to running, but all too often they are an external fix to what could be an internal problem as times.

Be open to different shoes and technology à The latest research on shoes has been exciting, not only with what the shoes can do, but also what questions they has introduced to the running research. Minimalist shoes have helped provide a smooth transition to improved running mechanics, as mentioned above, that can be an adjunct to the old familiar shoes. If you are interested in running in a more minimalist shoe tread lightly, every pun intended. Try cross training for less miles early and/or make some shorter runs the days you “work-on-mechanics” runs until you feel comfortable to move them more into a regular shoe rotation.

4. Don’t
Increase miles too fast à It’s easy to get excited about reaching mileage goals or run in to a time crunch where an upcoming race is looming. Increase mileage greater than 10% per week has been found to be a proven risk factor for 50% of runners and 90% of runners training for a marathon.

Steady and predictable plan à Plan early for a race and anticipate your running days and weeks to the point they are on your calendar. Get onto a running schedule that takes you up to and/or a little before you race and make sure the increases are steady and gradual. Take time to choose a rest week every 4-6 weeks to do some cross training and break away from the steady pace you are on to give your body a chance to catch up with proper tissue healing.

5. Don’t
Panic when you are short of breath à Getting into running and/or increasing speed or distance is quit the shock to the body, not a bad one, just a shock. Your pattern of breathing will come; it just takes some time and practice.

Develop your pattern and rhythm à This takes time, miles, and well sweat. Putting in the time to find your rhythm of breathing will be easier as your cardiovascular strength and endurance increases, but you have to put in the time. Some running experts feel that you breath out occurs every 2 steps, if you are this predictable then finding your routine may be a few runs away. Find a pace that your breathing can keep up with to start out, as this improves so will your runs.

Please contact us at any of our Wasatch Front locations, you can find us on the web at:

Mark D. Anderson, PT
Clinic Director, Runner’s Performance Lab Expert
Mountain Land Physical Therapy, Holladay
4624 South Holladay Blvd, Suite B
Holladay UT, 84117
(801) 277-1028

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