Getting the most out of your running
Below is some advice for athletes who take their running seriously, train regularly and enjoy a healthy lifestyle but are still not reaching their peak performance
There is a simple solution….
You can tackle problems easily, quickly and affordably. The answer lies in identifying the cause of the problem with a full muscle imbalance and biomechanical assessment.
You will feel better than ever and get even more enjoyment from your running. You will receive full advice on how to safely progress your training regime following injury.
4 sure signs you may not be getting the most enjoyment out of running…………
- If you suffer ‘ongoing niggles’ that just don’t seem to come right
- If you suffer injuries in your legs or back
- If you experience difficulty activating certain muscles in certain positions
- If you look a bit twisted with turned in knees in those post-race photo shots
Give your peak performance
You take your running seriously, train regularly and participate in a healthy lifestyle. You enjoy the challenge of organised running events.
You may have experienced injuries or ongoing niggles” in the past or be managing them presently. We can help you manage these best while assisting you to attain your peak performance. If you’ve had problems with affect your training regime you may have a muscle imbalance problem, where some muscles work too hard while others don’t contribute enough.
Some muscles may be shortened (think of your hamstrings!) while other lengthened making it more difficult for you to recruit (activate) and use them. You may also have a problem activating certain muscles in certain positions. Commonly athletes who complain of ongoing niggles. persistent or frequent injuries in the lower limbs or low back, are shown to have these problems.
Don’t let this affect your running enjoyment. With a complete muscle imbalance and biomechanical assessment from one of our specially trained team we can tell you where potential problems lie and give you some simple strategies to overcome them. We’ll also make sure that any new injuries are completely and properly rehabilitated to ensure your return to your PEAK PERFORMANCE, giving advice on progression of your training regime.
Running and your spine
Are you training the forgotten abdominal or are you heading for trouble?
Running is one of the most mechanically efficient skills performed by man. It is so because much of the propulsive force that drives us forward is derived from ‘the elastic recoil energy stored and then released from our muscles at the appropriate time.
This happens in much the same way as stretching an elastic band stores and releases energy. It occurs to a far lesser extent in activities such as walking, cycling and swimming. It can also make the runner far more susceptible to particular types of injury.
Running has been likened to rolling a cube rather than a wheel. The wheel rolls along smoothly with a fairly constant and low level force (friction) being applied to it. The cube however incurs sudden horizontal braking and vertical forces each time a corner of the cube strikes the ground thereby placing stress on the integrity of the shape of the cube. As the cube rolls forward over its front edge it stores energy that is then released as the next side of the cube falls to the ground.
Similar forces place stress on the athletes’ body at each foot strike in much the same way. They are transmitted through the lower limb, pelvis and spine and if not controlled adequately can lead to inefficient movement, poor performance and injury the common problem.
Examining athletes who present with injuries to their lower limb, pelvis or spine often reveals poor muscle control In the lumbo-pelvic region despite the fact that many have been undertaking what they have felt is a thorough routine of exercises to strengthen’ this area. Often these include exercises such as crunches, sit ups with twist variations, leg lowering, good mornings, dead lifts and back extensions.
Although many of these exercises have their part to play in improving the strength and endurance of the rectus abdominis (washboard muscle), oblique abdominals and long erector spinae (back) muscles they will not necessarily improve the muscular stabilisation of your spine and pelvis when running.
This is because they are ‘global trunk muscles and play more of a role in moving the spine and pelvis than they do in stabilising them. Some research in fact suggests that the rectus abdominis and oblique abdominals are inactive when running until sprinting speeds are reached and significantly greater forces applied to the lumbo-pelvic area, the musculature that is believed to play a key stabilising role is the transversus abdominis and multidfidus yet they remain forgotten in many exercise programs that we see athletes undertaking.
Transversus Abdominis and multifidus
The deepest of all of your abdominals is the transversus abdominis that runs horizontally in a hoop like fashion around torso in much the same way as a corset. It is capable of stabilising individual vertabrae and the pelvis. Research by Australian physiotherapists has shown that it’s activated prior to any trunk or limb movement and before any of the other abdominals in uninjured people. They have also demonstrated inefficient incorrect use of the Transversus abdominis in patients suffering from low back pain.
Working in conjunction with this muscle to stabilise each individual vertebra and the pelvis is a small spinal or back muscle, the multifuidus. It has been found to be atrophied reduced in size) in people suffering from hack pain and/or hack related leg pain.
In short then, these two muscles are part of a local muscle system that exists to provide stability to our lumbo-pelvic region , other trunk muscles exist that are part of a global system responsible for movement or stabilisation against large forces. When devising an exercise program to improve your lumbo-pelvic control and stability these factors need to he considered.
How do I know if I have a problem?
These muscles are not easily assessed without the guidance of a professional, however a number of signs may point to you needing a review by your physiotherapist.
- Persistent back pain.
- Persistent or reoccurring injuries.
- Low hips’ or ‘sitting’ when you run. This can often indicate any one of a number of imbalances in the musculature about your spine and pelvis that can predispose you to injury and limit your performance.
- Excessive pelvic, trunk or head movement from side to side when you run. When viewed from front on runners can exhibit excessive sideways movement of their pelvis in a similar fashion to the classic ‘catwalk model’. This can occur because of weakness in the gluteus medius muscle and results in excessive Forces being transmitted to the pelvis and spine. It compromises lower limb mechanics also and can predispose to hip, knee, groin, thigh and lower leg injury.
- An imbalanced strength program. A strength or gym program that does not include some appropriate exercises to keep your spinal stabilisers in balance with other muscles can eventually cause a loss of’ lumbo-pelvic muscle control leading to inefficient movement and predisposing to injury.
How can your physiotherapist help?
On many occasions people have some Initial difficulty In finding and contracting these stabiliser muscles appropriately. Careful instruction and feedback will quickly allow the athlete to feel and understand how and when the transversus abdominis and muirifidus are working properly. These initial exercises often begin in four point kneeling or laying on your stomach, quickly progressing to other positions and more complex variations once the muscles have been isolated,
Learning to then use these muscles during drills for your running, sprinting, hurdling and throwing ensures that they will provide you with the required level of muscle control to protect your spine and pelvis during all training activities.
The Pilates exercise regime is extremely beneficial. It utilises two pieces of equipment – the reformer and trapeze table – as well as floor exercises to train lumbo-pelvic stabilisation specifically. The Swiss ball also has an important role to play as it can be used to destabilise you during numerous exercises and therefore further challenge or load these muscles.
The possibilities In terms of exercise variation are endless there Is no need to ever get bored of the ‘same old’ stomach or back exercises anymore! The days of doing only countless sit-ups, crunches and Russian twists are gone. If you want to really improve the muscular control of your spine and pelvis, prevent Injuries and run efficiently don’t forget to train your lumbo-pelvic stabilisers.