The New Year provides a time to look ahead and plan for what is to be accomplished over the next twelve months. As a commitment to fitness and running is often at the top of most New Year Resolution lists, it’s important to remember the little things in avoiding injury and staying healthy to achieve your goals.
Lower leg and shin injuries are some of the most common for those starting out running. Often called shin splints, the most frequent cause of these very frustrating types of injuries is simply a case of too much, too soon. To avoid overdoing it, start out slow and increase the overall training volume no more than 10% a week. This is most certainly an obvious point, but also one that is all too frequently ignored. To further decrease the risk in developing lower leg injuries, adding simple exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the foot and ankle is critical. To strengthen the lower leg, calf raises and toe raises are effective at strengthening the back and front of the shin. Additionally, heel walking, or walking forward while trying to keep the toes from touching the ground, will help to strengthen the shin and prevent those annoying shin splints. Daily stretches for the calf, hamstring, and hip flexors will help to increase the range of motion of the lower leg that is required for running.
Don’t limit your fitness to simply running. Whether your primary aim is to get faster, or simply get healthier, don’t neglect the other aspects of fitness. Supplementing regular run training with flexibility and strength exercises can keep overuse injuries at bay, while improving posture and running mechanics. As an alternative, pilates and yoga both provide great group environments for training while promoting both strength and flexibility. A strength program should consist of basic, multi joint movements to most efficiently utilize training time. For the upper body, pushups and pull-ups are very effective at building strength and balance. For the lower body, lunges in different directions and single leg deadlifts are effective at strengthening the hips while improving the mobility of the hamstrings and hip flexors.
Contact the McLeod Sports Medicine – Human Motion Running Performance program for further questions, or with help in developing a specific strength and run training program. Packages are available to provide a comprehensive gait analysis and functional movement evaluation to improve your performance and decrease your risk of injury. Call: 843-777-5043