The physiotherapists at Capital Physiotherapy believe that in order to be able to run efficiently with improved performance and reduce risk of injuries, the following 5 factors need to be incorporated into your regular weekly training routine.
Length of the hip flexor muscles
The hip flexor muscles can become very tight with regular running. This can lead to pain at the front of the hip and tilting the pelvis forward which can then lead to jarring of the joints of the lower back whilst running. Tight hip flexors can also lead to reduced hip extension during running which reduces efficiency of running technique. To prevent hip flexor tightness, runners should stretch the hip flexors daily and after exercise.
Strength/control of the intrinsic foot muscles
The small (intrinsic) muscles of the foot are responsible for helping the balance and stability of the foot during running. If these muscles are weak then the larger muscles around the ankles and calves can become overworked to try and stabilise the foot. Overworked muscles risk becoming tight and injured and can lead to injuries in other areas of the body, which is why it is important to ensure the small muscles of the foot are strong.
Exercises for the intrinsic foot muscles include:
Toe swapping and Doming
Control/strength of the gluteal muscles
The gluteal muscles are responsible for stabilising the hip during activities where one leg is lifted off the ground, which occurs during running. Weakness or incorrect activation of the gluteal can lead to increased stress on other areas of the lower limbs which can lead to pain and risk of injury. It is therefore important to incorporate regular gluteal strengthening exercises into your workout regime. Exercises that work the gluteal muscles include bridges, clams, squats, crab-walking and hip-abduction exercises.
The core muscles lie deep behind the rectus abdominus muscle. It acts to stabilise and protect the spine during movement. Core strength is critical for running as it helps to prevent injury to the spine and other areas of the body that may be overloaded when core strength is inadequate. Core exercises need to be performed at least 2-3 times a week to maintain core strength and endurance. Correct technique is critical for core exercises.
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