By Rachel Neal – Osteopath
Exercises by Vince Maynard – Sports Massage and Rehab Therapist
Have you decided to take up running in 2019? Great Choice! Running is a great form of exercise. It improves Cardiovascular health, it helps to achieve a healthy weight, it boosts mood, you need very little equipment, you can do it anywhere, it’s time efficient, you get fresh air and you can go at your own pace.
Here are our top tips and some exercises to help you on your journey.
1 – Take it easy. Don’t do too much too fast, you’ll either injure yourself or you’ll give up. There are some great plans out there to get you started such as the ‘Couch to 5km’. Check out the NHS site for a plan. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/
2 – Footwear – Get comfy running shoes suitable for the terrain you’re running on. Trainer choice is a controversial topic. For the majority of people, presuming no prior injury, the best advice is to try some reputable brands and see what feels good on your feet. Reputable brands include Nike, Brooks, Asics, New Balance, Ons.
3 – Run with others – Join a running group, sign up to an event or find a running buddy to keep you motivated. Finding a Park Run near you is highly recommended. These tend to be really friendly runs on a Saturday morning at 9am across the country. Crewe, Congleton, Hanley and Newcastle have them. http://www.parkrun.org.uk
4 – Warm up, cool down and stretch – Remember to warm up gently, this could be a brisk walk, marching on the spot, leg swings, knee lifts, side stepping and/or climbing stairs. After your run gradually slow down and then do some stretches. This helps to prevent injury.
5 – Strength and mobility are important too – Don’t forget strength and mobility exercises. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s essential for preventing injury and improving performance.
6 – Listen to your body – Muscle soreness post exercise is normal and expected but if something hurts or just doesn’t feel right it’s best to get it checked sooner rather than later. We have an osteopath and a sports massage and injury specialist so we are able to help.
Here are some exercises by our sports massage and rehab therapist Vince. Follow the instructions carefully and get advice if something hurts.
Remember if you’re new to exercise please check with your GP or medical advisor as to the suitability of these exercises for you.
All in one stretch
It’s a good idea to get the whole body ready when preparing for a run. Even though the most stress is on your legs, the whole body needs to work as one unit to ensure efficient running. Try this all in one stretch complex to target the main areas needed for running. The video will take you through all of the aspects.
Now that you have stretched and warmed up the targeted muscles, it’s a good idea to introduce a few simple exercises that will help keep you injury free and ultimately run better and longer!
The first of these exercises uses a peanut ball. These are great for some self treatment, you can buy them from VM Perform. Alternatively you could use a tennis ball or a foam roller.
First step is to target tightness in the anterior part of the leg (shins). This area gets very tight and if not looked after, can cause big problems. Place the peanut ball on the floor and place the outside of your leg onto the ball. Apply pressure down onto the ball to release the tight and sore points along the side of the leg. Apply pressure that is bearable and not excruciating pain.
Here is the video:
Now you need to address the tightness in the calves. As you might think, the calf produces an extremely high amount of power and takes a lot of stress whilst running. Failure to keep the calves supple can result in the calves pulling or achilles tendon issues. Place the ball on the floor and put your calf on top of it. Apply pressure down onto the ball and try to identify the sore points along the muscle. Here is the video:
Single leg deadlift
The first one is a single leg deadlift. Watch the video to ensure you have correct technique. The main things to focus on are:
- Keeping the knee slightly bent throughout
- Majority of the movement is coming from the hips
- Feel a stretch in the hamstring as you lower
- Slow on the way down and quick on the way up
- Start off with no weight and progress onto holding a small weight.
- Try 10-12 reps each side and repeat 3-4 times.
Calf and Soleus
Next is to focus on the calf and soleus muscles. These are vital for a strong efficient running pattern. Watch the video for the variations of strengthening as different positions will target different muscles. Aim for 12-15 reps and repeat 3-4 times
Next is the core. The core is very important for running, and can be very effective in limiting fatigue in the hips and back. Having a nice and stable trunk can lead to the other muscles working more efficiently. Watch the video for the exercise but things to keep in mind are:
- Try and keep the hips stable and level throughout the exercise
- Tighten the core and keep the feet on the ground
- Try to aim for 12 taps in total, and repeat 3-4 times
This one is a must do for runners. Having strong and alert glutes will make your running pattern more efficient. If the glutes are lazy then your body will normally rely on other structures to help, and they will ultimately break down. Watch the video for the exercise but some key points are:
- Tilt your hips so that you contract your belly
- Bring the hips up to the ceiling without arching your lower back
Once you feel comfortable enough, try a single leg glute bridge
Try 10-12 reps and repeat 3-4 times
We hope these exercises help you achieve your goals injury free. We have lots of experience so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any problems or questions.
Alsager Wellness Rooms offer treatments for the whole body in Alsager, Cheshire including osteopathy, deep tissue massage, medical acupuncture, sports injury rehab, yoga, pilates, meditation, reflexology, Reiki, and indian head massage.