Strong trunk muscles is a good defense against running injuries. The term “core muscles” includes muscles of the abdomen, hip, lumbar spine, diaphragm and pelvic floor. Injuries frequently happen when your body twists unintentionally or unexpectedly. This can occur with an inappropriate balance to muscle length and strength across the trunk resulting in unintended rotation at the spine, hip or knee. A strong core will help to keep your trunk in place and avoid these rotational forces as you run.
Easy does it
While training, increase your mileage by small increments (5-10% per week) and include rest days. Only change one variable at a time, such as speed, mileage, terrain, running shoes, etc.
Having good posture avoids putting excess stress on your knees and back. Over-striding is placing your foot well ahead of the knee when running, which increases the forces across the spine and knee.
Avoid crossing your arms in front of your body when swinging, as this may rotate your shoulders and cause your core to become unstable, due to the sway. Instead, bend your elbows in a relaxed hang, keeping your elbows tucked close to your body and your hands relaxed as you swing arms forward and back.
To avoid over-striding, imagine leading with your knee rather than with your foot. When your foot first hits the ground, your lower leg should be vertical to the ground rather than tilted. Aim to land mid-foot rather than on the toes or heels.
A shoe that fits well is more likely to help in the prevention of injury. Pain from shoes means they’re putting stress somewhere -and compounded, that could spell out injury. Look for a pair that feels good and allows you to perform your foot motions freely. The old thought of breaking a new pair of shoes “in” is still valid. Try them out just walking the first week, then use them on a short run, gradually increasing the length of time they’re worn running.
Keep your eyes focused on the ground about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you, not on your feet, so you can see what’s ahead and prevent a fall.
Before running, perform about 5 minutes of active warm-up exercises, such as:
- Forward/backward arm swings
- Side-to-side trunk rotations with arms extended outward
- Forward/backward leg swings
- Side-to-side leg swings
- Jogging forward while rotating hips from left to right
- Jogging in place with high knees