Welcome to Margaret River Health Centre

Margaret River is a lifestyle town. We understand that to Live Life and enjoy the massive variety of activities on offer you want to Stay Active and Move Well. So to get you back in the game or out on the trails, give us a call to make an appointment.
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Wednesday 01:00PM - 06:00PM
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Margaret River Health Centre - Unit 6/45 Station Road, Margaret River, 6285 WA

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Margaret River Health Centre / Exercises / Running Exercises

Running Exercises

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years being a Physio and a runner in Margaret River, it’s that running is not just about how fit you are from a cardio perspective, but also how strong your body is. Are you ready to race?

For more information on these exercises or our physio’s, call us on (08) 97579090 to make an appointment. Run well.

Speed and Hips

Whilst a lot of you are just trying to get to the finish line on race day, there’s also a lot aiming for PB’s. So today we’ll focus on hip extension and hip flexibility, which will not only help to prevent injury but also help develop your running SPEED.

Most people think running speed comes from how hard you push off the ground, but in fact most of your speed is generated during the ‘drive phase’ of running – that is, when your foot hits the ground and pulls your thigh backwards to move your body forwards. This is also called hip extension. And the more powerful your hip extension combined with your hip flexibility, the faster you’ll go.

So firstly, how do you improve your hip extension? You need to focus on strengthening your hamstrings and glutes and improving the range your hip can travel backwards during the movement. The more power you use during this driving phase, the more your leg will travel behind you. Once you’ve started pulling through the leg, don’t keep forcing the movement, but rather let it flow through naturally. Think of how a chicken runs. Lots of power at the start of the running step with relaxed legs flowing out behind to finish….

Here’s some exercises to start increasing you hip extension power:

Single Leg Bridge

  1. Start on your back with your knees bent up.
  2. Raise hips until knees, hips and shoulders are in   alignment.
  3. Breathe out as you straighten one leg out
  4. Swap and repeat with your opposite leg

CARE – If your back starts getting sore, drop your bottom slightly

PROGRESSION – Once you’re comfortable with this, start to slowly bring the outstretched leg out to the side (to engage your core) while breathing out

Donkey Kick

  1. Start on hands and knees and hold some Theraband in one hand while the other end is attached to your foot
  2. Make sure your posture is neutral (slight curve in lower spine and shoulder blades lowered)
  3. Keep your body still as your leg kicks out behind (like a donkey). Remember to breathe out when pushing behind
  4. Squeeze glut on pushing side as you move

PROGRESSION – Once you’ve mastered this, try extending the leg then drawing it out to the side as you breathe out. The key is to not shift your body to the side – keep it still.

CARE – If your back starts getting sore, drop your bottom slightly

PROGRESSION – Once you’re comfortable with this, start to slowly bring the outstretched leg out to the side (to engage your core) while breathing out

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Split Squat

ex-split-squat

One of the best running exercises out there. The split squat works on balance, hip control, core strength, and running power. It has heaps of progressions to spice it up too.

  1. To avoid knee pain and to engage your hip muscles, keep the front leg vertical (don’t allow your kneecap to move forwards over toes). Stick your bum out behind you to compensate.
  2. Drop your back knee towards the ground and hold the duration of a breathe out. Notice how your chest moves forward slightly towards your knee (this helps to engage the hip)
  3. Squeeze glut to lift back up into standing

PROGRESSION – Look to left and right when you’re in split squat position to work on balance control.
For more power, add some plyometric power by leaping into the air and swapping legs (warning, not for dodgy knees (build up to this)

So now to the second component for improving your speed – HIP FLEXIBILITY.

Without adequate hip flexibility, you tend to overarch your lower back (hyperextension) to compensate. When your stride is finished and your heel ends up near your bottom, the stretch-reflex in your hip flexor muscles kick in to bring your leg forward again. The further your leg can travel, the greater speed you can develop.

Here’s one of the best way to stretch your hips flexors.

ex-single-leg-bridge

  1. Lay on your back over the edge of some furniture and grab one leg into your chest. This locks the pelvis and stops the back arching.
  2. Let the other leg dangle over the end towards the ground
  3. On the dangling leg, squeeze your glutes to activate hip extension and feel a stretch in the front of your hip.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds (long breathe out) then rest for 5 (breath in), then repeat 10-12 times. Repeat with the opposite leg.

These exercises will get you started on improving your hip flexibility and extension strength to generate more power from your stride. So good luck and have fun out there. Next time we’ll talk about how knee pain is commonly caused by your weak bum – the bread and butter of all good runners.

Runners Knee Pain

Ready to race means making sure you have the flexibility and the strength to push your body over the 10km road run, or the more adventurous 15km trail run, which if you haven’t done before includes lots of soft stuff underfoot. Soft surface running demands greater strength in your legs otherwise you start to overload structures, causing pain and eventually soft tissue breakdown and injury.

Of all the running injuries I treat, two continue to pop up; knee pain (runners knee) and Achilles tendinopathy. So let’s focus on how I usually work to prevent these injuries and the ingredients to running pain free before race day.

40% of all running injuries are knee injuries. Patellofemoral pain or ‘runners knee’ is the irritation of the cartilage under the patella (knee cap) and normally occurs after long runs, prolonged sitting or descending hills or stairs. People with overpronation (flat feet), weak quads, hips or glutes are the most prone to developing runners knee. So how do we fix it?

The key to fixing runners knee is strength and biomechanics. Firstly, glute strength is vital to help control hip and thigh movement, preventing your knees from turning inward. This in turn prevents the patella grinding away cartilage as you run. To work on glute control:

Banded Leg Sidesteps

  1. Place a loop of resistance band just above your knees or ankles (more difficult
  2. Separate your feet and bend your knees, lowering down into a slightly crouched position
  3. While standing in this position, walk sideways for 10 – 15 steps, keeping your feet straight and upper body still
  4. Repeat in opposite direction.
Hipdip Against Wall

  1. Stand tall next to wall with good knee bent up
  2. Squeeze left glut as you push right knee into wall and hold into wall (you can also use fitball)
  3. Slight bend of knee but hinge at hip and stick your bottom out as you bend
  4. Keep your kneecap aimed towards 2nd toe (Don’t move your toes forward over feet)
  5. Should feel left glut fire up +++

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To keep your knee tracking correctly, we often use Rocktape to rotate the shaft (tibia) or pull the kneecap inwards, but you need to learn how to perform these techniques. Of course there’s also the foam roller to attack your ITB (iliotibial band) to reduce lateral torsion of the kneecap, and strengthening of the VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique) muscle.

Once you’ve started to improve and have returned to running, it’s important to prevent a relapse. Altering your running technique can help, such as shortening your stride length, which increases your cadence (steps per minute) and landing with a slightly bent knee. So count the number of steps you take per minute, take that figure and increase it by 5 to 10 percent.

Of course all of these tips are good to try but if your pain persists or you need help, always seek the help of a good physio who can assess you properly to make sure you’ve got the complete picture. There may be some other aspects of your technique or body makeup you’re neglecting.

We’ll tackle the Achilles in the next post and also talk about forefoot and minimalist running. Fad or fantastic? Is it worth changing your technique?