Training for Success
Training for an upcoming race is exciting. Developing a training plan that keeps you moving toward your goals without injury is key. Many factors contribute to a successful training season. You need to be realistic in your goal setting, only increase your speed/distance in small increments, rest adequately, hydrate and eat right. These are the things we hear all the time but what else can you do?
Research supports that a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) will decrease the stress to lower extremities and prevent injury. Do you know your BMI? If not you can easily figure it out with an online BMI calculator. A healthy BMI will range from 18.5-24.9. Set a BMI goal for yourself if you are outside of that range. If you want to know how to set your BMI goal contact a trusted health care professional.
The literature shows a link between improved core strength and posture with a decrease in both the number and severity of injuries. Very few athletes are properly trained in breathing, core activation and upright postural control while running. Endurance athletes tend to focus on the training hours and neglect the body postures and core stability needed to reach their goals safely. Is your posture normal and do you activate your core effectively? Try this test, from picture one below. Stand with your back against a wall and feet 2 inches from the wall, hip width apart. The back of your head, your shoulder blades and your butt should be touching the wall. There should be a space behind your neck and your low back. Feel the muscles needed to attain this posture. These muscles should be firing during every workout!
Evidence suggests that alignment of the lower extremity from the hip to the ankle during training can predict the incidence of injury. Typically, poor alignment is due to a lack of hip stability strength, a decrease in hamstring length, a loss of rotational range of motion at the hip and tight calf muscles. Alignment is key in helping your body properly absorb the abnormal forces associated with training. Do you know how you line up? One quick assessment you can do is to stand in front of a mirror, on one leg. Slowly begin a single leg squat. Watch what happens to your knee. If your knee starts to cave in toward your opposite leg you have weak lower extremity stabilizing muscles. Clams and wall rainbows are designed to strengthen your gluteus medium and improve alignment. See exercises 2 and 3 below to start improving now!
Injuries are expensive to treat and take time away from training. By following these evidence based tips, you can optimize your body position during training to avoid getting hurt. This information will help you focus on preventing injury, keep you running and saves money from health care costs. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on a race entry fee? Physical therapists are trained to identify and fix alignment problems. There are exercises specific to your problem that you can do to improve your alignment. For more in-depth assessment of alignment or a running form analysis go see a Physical Therapist.
Michelle Fink, PT Cert. MDT, Owner, Perform Physical Therapy , Inc. 7023 S Willow Springs Rd. Countryside, IL. 60525
Michelle is an avid runner, biker and adventure racer. She has done over 10 marathons, 3 Boston marathons, the half Ironman, the Ascent up Pikes Peak and multiple 200 mile relay races.