We recently caught up with local Sports Physiotherapist Catherine Ketsimur from E3 Physio to pick her brain about the ‘Dos and Don’ts of Running’. Here’s what she had to say…
It’s easy to think of running as an act that requires little to no thought. After all, it’s something many of us have done since we were children, and it’s what our bodies are built for, right?
The reality is that this aerobic activity, like so many other forms of exercise, is fraught with pitfalls when performed with poor form, inadequate equipment, or a lack of preparation. To help you avoid injury and start pounding the pavement with confidence, here are some dos and don’ts when getting back into running.
There’s no expectation that you’ll break the four minute mile or nail a marathon with no training. Ease into your running regime to ensure you don’t push yourself too far, too fast.
A walk, a saunter, or a shuffle is a fine place to start, especially if you’re coming off little to no regular physical activity. If your fitness means you’re better challenged by a jog or a slow run, then go for it. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re able to talk, but not sing, you’re probably at an ideal level of exertion.
Be sure to start small when it comes to distance, too. Covering countless kilometres on your first session might feel like a big achievement, but all too often it leads to injury or motivation-sapping muscle soreness. Allow your body to adjust to these new demands by mastering a lap of your neighbourhood before tackling longer distances.
With the amount of cushioning provided in the heel of many common running shoes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s the perfect place to spring off the pavement into your next stride. Mounting scientific research, however, has revealed that this is not the case.
An inefficient way to disperse shock throughout your body, ‘heel striking’ can cause issues with your knee and hip joints. Instead, you should aim to hit the ground with your midfoot, before rolling through to the ball and propelling forward. This technique may take some getting used to, but it can be vital to keeping your joints healthy in the long run … so to speak.
Running isn’t all about cardio. To perform at your peak and remain injury free, it’s necessary to strengthen the muscles of your legs, core, and even your upper body.
Record-breaking deadlifts and leg presses aren’t called for here, instead simple bodyweight exercises are all that’s needed to see real results. Try standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, for example, to strengthen the stabilising muscles in your ankles and improve your balance.
Pilates is great for those seeking a full-body strengthening solution, particularly when done with the help of a qualified instructor.
With promises of improved coordination, increased movement economy, and reduced impact on your knees, it’s easy to see why the barefoot running craze has swept through the fitness world. Much like chocolate ice cream, though, barefoot running is a good thing that can easily be overdone.
Habitually ditching the joggers in favour of this more ‘natural’ approach can place stress on the connective tissues of the foot, lower leg, and ankle, and damage to any of these can be debilitating.
“Being barefoot for some part of each day is actually very good for you,” explains Catherine.
“Where we see issues is when people jump into barefoot training without enough preparation.”
As with reincorporating any type of running into your fitness plan, a gradual uptake of the barefoot variety is needed to reap the benefits while mitigating the risks. If you’re interested in adopting it, increase the amount of time you spend sans-shoe at home, and begin with brief intervals on a soft, grassy surface.
Speaking of running surfaces, it’s important that your go-to running track matches your goals and capabilities.
Unfortunately there’s no one ideal surface that can challenge all runners without risking injury. Soft sand can be gentle on the knees, but a nightmare for those with poor balance and stability. A flat concrete pathway can be great for improving endurance, but it’ll do little to prepare your legs, feet and ankles for the rigours of a tough hike.
Whether you’re ramping up to a fun run, looking to tackle a steep mountain trail, or just want to be able to keep up with your kids on a trip to the beach, it’s important that you pick a training surface that caters to your needs. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, start slow, and if you feel something is wrong, don’t ‘push through the pain’.
Sure, sometimes it’s necessary to disregard the burning in your lungs, calves, and quads if you want to conquer more demanding distances. What shouldn’t be ignored, however, is lingering pain in your joints, the base of your foot, or in your ankles.
If it’s been a few days since your last run and you still find yourself hobbling around the house or enduring wince-inducing discomfort, it’s wise to see what the experts have to say. Maybe your form is off, maybe your footwear is inadequate, maybe you’re training too intensely. Without consulting an experienced and qualified physiotherapist, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the problem could be.
If your return to running has been marred by injury, or you just can’t seem to shake a nagging (insert body part here!), reach out to your local physio.
E3 Physio have a speciality focus on foot and ankle therapy, knee therapy and rehabilitation, pilates and clinical exercise, pain management, acupuncture, and focused shock wave therapy. They work with athletes looking to maximise their performance, weekend warriors chasing that all important PB, and everyone in between! Get along to their clinic in West Burleigh to meet the dedicated and knowledgeable team.