How To Keep Running Healthy with Stretching and Core Workouts

 

So you’re getting out there and running/walking/ wogging a couple of times a week, are you? Good for you! Have you added stretching and core work to your exercise routine?

Hold up a minute, you exclaim. I’m running/walking/ wogging a couple of times a week, isn’t that enough?

Well, no.

One thing we runners are notorious for neglecting is our stretching. It’s easy to forget…and I’m not sure why…maybe we’re anxious to get out there to run; or ready to hit the shower when we finish. New runners as well as seasoned ones are guilty of forgetting to stretch. However, abnormal tightness in muscles and tendons can be the cause of various running injuries.

And core work? Well, your core what keeps your torso upright when you run. Strengthening your abs, back and chest also improves balance and helps your lower body work with your upper body.

“Flexibility and core strength are two of the biggest factors to keep any runner healthy and running strong,” Coach Lauren Evans explains*. Coach Lauren encourages her athletes to implement stretching and core exercises into their training one to three times weekly.

Here are some stretches from Coach Lauren for both before and after your run.

Before the run

Stretching is best when muscle fibers are warm. Stretching cold muscle can result in small tears of muscle fibers and fascia, which can lead to pain and stiffness.

The best stretching for cold muscles is dynamic stretching. An example of dynamic stretching, says Coach Lauren, is the Leg Swing.

Leg Swing

Flexion/Extension
Stand next to a wall, with your weight on your left leg and your right hand on the wall for balance. Swing your right leg forward as high up as you can, and then backward as far as you can. Swing 10 repetitions on each leg.

Cross Body Flexion/Abduction
Facing the wall, lean slightly forward with both hands on the wall and your weight on your left leg. Swing your right leg to the left in front of your body, pointing your toes upward as your foot reaches its farthest point of motion. Then swing your leg back to the right as far as comfortable, again pointing your toes up as your foot reaches its final point of movement. Swing 10 repetitions on each leg.

During or after the run

Static stretches after your run help your muscles to heal and restore them to resting length. Within the first 15 minutes or so after your run is best.

Deep lunge

This deep lunge is actually more of a range of motion stretch, and not a strength activity. Stand tall with both feet together (starting position). Keeping your back straight, lunge forward with the right foot approximately 1 to 1 1/2 yards. Your right thigh should be parallel with the ground, and your right lower leg vertical to the ground. Hold this position. Raise your left arm toward the sky, and perform a sideways lean toward your right leg, keeping your body upright. Hold this position. Do this for 5-10 repetitions, then repeat with your left leg.

Hamstring Stretch:

Lie on your back with your right foot extended in the air. Loop a towel or rope around the bottom of your foot and hold both ends. Pull gently and hold for 30 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat three times, then switch legs.

Traditional Calf Stretch:

Stand facing the wall. With one leg straight behind you and the front leg bent, push slightly against the wall and hold for 15 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat three times, then switch legs.

Lauren’s “Continuous Core”

Even more than stretching, one of a runner’s least favorite things to do is core exercise. But again, core strength is essential for running healthy.

Continuous Core is performing a core workout for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then going right into the next core exercise with no rest in between.

“Your core is constantly activated when you are running, without rest,” Coach Lauren points out, “so why would you get to rest during a core-specific workout?”

Start with a goal of 2 minutes of continuous core, then progress to 3, minute by minute all the way to a maximum of 12 minutes. “I like to keep a target of 6 to 8 minutes of continuous core three times per week with my athletes,” Coach Lauren added.

Here are some examples of core exercises that you can use in a “continuous core” workout:

  • Crunch
  • Crunch with legs straight up, reaching for toes
  • Bicycle
  • Reverse crunch
  • Side crunch
  • Front Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Supine Plank (tummy toward the sky)
  • Hold push-up position
  • Donkey kicks
  • Fire hydrants

Regular stretching and core work will help keep you running healthy and strong! If you are interested in a personalized plan or have any questions, please contact Coach Lauren. Her email is: lauren@fizioreno.com .

*Lauren Evans has been working in the fitness industry since 2009. She has coached 100+ athletes of all ability levels and helped them achieve their goals. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer and is currently obtaining her Level 3 certification with USA Track & Field, preparing her to coach national/Olympic level athletes. Lauren and her husband, Ryan, are the owners of Fizio, a locally owned fitness center and athlete recovery lounge located at 400 Mill Street, Reno, NV. For more information about Fizio, please visit FizioReno.com or stop by for a free trial day.

How To Keep Running Healthy with Stretching and Core Workouts

How To Choose The Right Running Shoes

How To Choose The Right Running ShoesThe first and most important investment for a new runner should be a pair of proper running shoes. “Proper” does not necessarily mean the latest and top of the line; on the other hand, you probably should avoid the bargain basement brands. And while there are some truly beautiful running shoes out there, neither is this a fashion statement. Choosing the right shoe is important in preventing injuries, which can include anything from blistering and cramping to sprains and shin splints.

“Almost all shoes are good for something,” says Matt Balzer, owner of Reno Running Company, “but it is impossible to say any one particular shoe is good for a (specific) group of people”, whether beginners or seasoned runners.

So how do you know which are the best shoes for you?

Wet Test

You can get part of the story from a test you can perform at home, called the “wet test”. You simply wet the sole of your foot, then step onto a paper shopping bag or other piece of blank, heavy paper, and stand on that leg for a few seconds. Then step back and look down. The shape of the footprint tells a bit about your foot type. If you see around half of your arch region, you have a normal or medium arch. If you see just the ball and heel of your foot, you have a high arch. And if you see almost your entire foot, you have a flat or low arch. This self-diagnostic does give you an idea of the type of shoe you need, but it’s only one clue in the quest for the running shoes meant for you.

Gait AnalysisGait Analysis on Treadmill

The best thing to do is to have a gait analysis. You can can make an appointment with a physician who specializes in sports podiatry. Or, check with your local running specialty store to see if they can perform the evaluation on site. At Reno Running Company, for example, there are two treadmills with high-speed cameras aimed at the feet. The cameras are used to “analyze an individual’s foot strike pattern, along with ankle and foot mobility,” Balzer explained. “We look for the rate of pronation (the natural movement of the foot that occurs during foot landing) to help us fit each customer in the correct category of shoe for their individual needs.”

Following the gait analysis, Balzer and his associates spend time with the customer to find out what type of activity they will be using the shoes for: indoor or outdoor, trail or road, walking or running, etc. Based upon all of this information, they can help the customer choose from several options.

Most major shoe brands carry styles in three basic types:

  • motion control, for runners with low arches
  • stability, for those with normal or medium arched feet
  • cushioned, for those with high arches

It’s a good idea when you try on the shoes to walk – better yet, run – around the store to see how they feel.

The Investment

The cost of a pair of running shoes can be eye-opening. “Running shoes are an expensive investment,” says running coach and trainer Lauren Evans, “but it is well worth it.”
All of the major shoe brands have models that start around $50 and can go up to $150 or more. “The $50 shoe could meet someone’s needs just as well as a $150 shoe,”, said Balzer, but the less expensive shoes can wear out faster and you may be replacing them more often. The general consensus is that most running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, so depending on how much you plan to run, that can mean at least a couple of pairs a year.

And, again, there are some beautiful running shoes out there…so even though a fashion statement isn’t the top priority, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility!

There are many styles of running shoes to choose from