Running from the ground up

I want to touch on some important aspects to consider before starting to run or train, I’ll go into more detail in later blogs. Some people still believe that more is better, when it comes to training ‘Go hard or go Home! is often followed leaving people deflated when they don’t reach their goal due to injury or burnout. Most people will always run for as long and as fast as they can with no real plan. ‘I was that person’ but as great as running up miles is, if you don’t have a plan you are a high risk of burnout and/or injury. I know what you’re thinking ‘that’s wrong, if I don’t run as fast as I can for each session I won’t get better’. This is only true from your actual speed sessions. The Kenyans (best runners on the planets) follow the 20:80 rule meaning 80% of their training is easy running while the remainder is hard/moderate running. It’s no coincidence that they are so fast. I’ll discuss proper program design to a degree in a later blog,(if you need a program built please contact me via the e-mail below). Number 1 you need to understand where you’re tight and weak before you start running. I’d recommend at least 4 weeks of mobility and strength training before starting a running program.Why?The first issue of running without proper assessment is that you could have a lot of short, tight and weak muscles and other issues from the deskbound lifestyle most of us are guilty of. You need to start correcting these issues in a meaningful way first because major muscles involved in running (hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, get short and weak in a prolonged seated position).

Sitting shortens hips flexors and hamstrings, it also deactivates the Glutes

Most likely your shoulders and diagram (breathing muscle) are out of alignment meaning you’re not getting enough oxygen per breath. When you stand up your skeleton is pulled out of alignment, if you start to add motion and reaction forces to joints that are out of alignment the end result will definitely be injury with reduced quality of training until the injury happens. Running blindly without focusing on all aspects of performance can be compared to cycling into a headwind on a rusty hybrid bike wearing baggy clothes and a parachute out back. You’re still moving put it could be so much easier. Correcting your imbalances would be like getting a tt bike with full aero clothing, high end components and ditching the parachute, put head to head there would be no competition, no matter how hard you pedalled there would be no way of beating the upgraded version of you, also the chances of your components (body) breaking down are much higher because they aren’t being maintained so the concern swtiches to being able to finish the race at all instead of racing your better self. It’s important you get assessed by a sports physiotherapist, ideally someone with an excellent understanding of your chosen sport. When assessing it’s a good idea to start with the feet as these are the contact point with the ground and ‘25% of the muscles in our body are below the ankle’. The simplest way to train the feet without much effort  is to go bare foot(with socks)at home, wearing shoes with a wide toe area which allow the toes to spread as well when you go out is good idea.The big toe is very important in balance and controlling pronation(when the foot roles inward on ground contact) during running. Allowing your big toe room to do its job it very important to prevent bunions( bony bumps that form at the base of the joint of your big toe). If your big toe turns in this causes a chain reaction up the movement chain i.e knee collapse in, then hip drop etc.

Flexor hallus longus muscle helps maintain foot arch

Next look at your knees (knee pain/stiffness, do they collapse in?). Your VMO muscle could be inactive due to prolonged sitting, excessive dynamic knee bending(sitting, running, cycling) also deactivates the VMO. The VMO muscle is responsible for the last 30 degrees of knee flexion. A single leg squad in this range is an example of a VMO exercise

blog-vastus-med (1)
VMO prevents the knee collapsing in

Moving to the hips. The glutes muscles maintain the position of pelvis which in turn helps the spine maintain a strong position. Sitting for prolonged periods turns these muscles off. If these muscles aren’t activated properly and you go for a run most likely you won’t be able to maintain proper posture so every step will bring you closer to injury. Consistently working on muscular and postural weaknesses is key to not getting injured and getting the results you want. Muscles often occur in pairs, called antagonistic pairs. As one muscle contracts, the other relaxes. An example of an antagonistic pair is the quadriceps and hamstrings; to contract – the quadriceps relaxes while the hamstring contracts to bend the knee. Running works certain muscles more than others (generally outer quadriceps and hips flexors) which will get stronger or overused. In the case of the quadriceps the hamstrings help control speed of contraction, if the quadriceps are too strong for the hamstrings you could tear a hamstring among other things. Running also generally tightens your hip flexors which adds to the problem of sitting. Tight hip flexors create an excessive pelvic tilt angle which has been shown to prevent the glutes and hamstrings firing properly. So  if you sit for most of the day and go for a run without addressing your imbalances you’re going to really add to some of the issues sitting creates.muscle-relationship-agonist-antagonist-upper-leg

I get everyone I work with on a resistance training prehab/rehab  program before I get them doing any real running work outs. ‘I’ll discuss running workouts in a later blog’. Many people just want to run, which is fine put if your running schedule is making you too tired to lift weights or you don’t see the point in them you’re going to get injured, this is fact. And if you’re someone who is already good at running you could be so much better with a weights programme. Please Like and share on any platform you’re on, If you have a question please ask.

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