Prevent those aches and pains, and complement your training with these five exercises to stay injury-free. By Estelle Low
Runners, muscle strengthening is an important part of training too. (Photo: lzflzf / www.123rf.com)
Good on you if you’ve started clocking up more mileage. But if jogging is all you’re doing, you’re missing out on a crucial part of training: muscle strengthening.
“Most beginners don’t realise that running takes more than just good stamina. It’s also about having a strong core, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings. These muscles need to work together to support and sustain your running form – especially as you increase training intensity,” says Darek Lam, head sports physiotherapist at Go!Physio clinic.
“If one or more of these muscles are weak, they will not be able to withstand the impact of repetitive pounding, and the surrounding joints will suffer.” Sidestep the most common running injuries with these conditioning moves, advises Darek.
Common Running Injury #1: Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBS)
The ITB is a band of fibres that stabilises your legs as you run. When it becomes tight and inflamed from overuse, you’ll feel a stinging sensation on the outer thigh and knee. Sometimes, the pain radiates to the hip. Common in long-distance runners, this injury is often the result of weak muscles in the buttocks (glutes) and outer thighs (quads and hip abductors).
To prevent ITBS, do HIP LIFT
Works glutes and hip abductors
Lie on right side with right knee bent and left leg straightened. Lean towards ground slightly. Raise left leg to 45 degrees, heel pointing upwards. Use left arm to support body and keep body on mat [as shown]. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps; switch sides to complete set.
To prevent ITBS, do HIP STRETCH
Works outer quadriceps
Lie down on right side and lean forward slightly. Bend left knee backwards and hold left ankle with left hand. Rest right ankle on left thigh to feel stretch at side of left thigh [as shown]. Hold for 30 seconds. Do three reps; switch sides to complete set.
Common Running Injury #2: Knee Osteoarthritis
As you age, the natural cushioning between your joints (cartilage) wears away, causing pain in the knee when you’re active, and stiffness when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Weak muscles around the knee also contribute to this degenerative condition.
To prevent knee osteoarthritis, do KNEE EXTENSION
Sit in upright position with feet on ground [A]. Tie one end of resistance band around left ankle, and other end around front leg of chair. Straighten left leg, toes pointing upwards [B]. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps; switch sides to complete set.
Common Running Injury #3: Shin Splints
When your calf muscles are too weak to absorb the impact of repetitive pounding, the shin bones bear the brunt of it. You might experience this if you’ve recently started running on a different terrain.
To prevent shin splints, do SINGLE LEG BALANCE
Works calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core
Stand on left leg with arms raised to sides. Make sure weight is distributed evenly on left foot. Leaning forward, bend left knee and raise left heel slightly [as shown]. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Do 10 reps; switch sides to complete set. To up the challenge, do this with eyes closed.
TIP! Go barefoot for this exercise to make sure balancing foot does not roll inwards.
Common Running Injury #4: Achilles Tendinopathy
Tight calf muscles can strain the achilles tendon that connects them to the heel bones. Over time, excessive running can cause tiny tears to form on the tendon. This triggers pain in the heel or ankle as you walk.
To prevent achilles tendinopathy, do SINGLE HEEL RAISE
Stand on left leg and hold on to back of chair [A]. Raise left heel while keeping body straight and core tightened [B]. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps; switch sides to complete set.