Is 2018 the year you want to start running? Or maybe improve your PR for a 5 or 10k? Or maybe just be able to run a short distance without pain? Or is it the year you're going to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Whatever your goals may be, it's important to know take care of your body when you run! In our October blog we shared some tips and techniques on running form, so once you've read that, check out a few common stretches and exercises that you should be doing if you're not already! The repetitive motion of running can cause for some imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility so try to combat them with these:
Stretching for Runners
You calf muscles can get very tight due to running. Make sure you spend time stretching, at least 2x30 seconds on each side, as well as doing some self-massage with a foam roller for 1 minute per side after runs.
The hip flexors and quad muscles are another area that are commonly tight in runners. When performing the above stretch, make sure you are keeping your belly button pulling back towards your spine and your pelvis tucked underneath your body to feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold the stretch 2x30 sec on each side. For foam rolling the quads, get into the plank position with your stomach tight and roll yourself along the foam roller using your arms.
Strengthening for Runners
The gluteus medius is a muscle on the side of your hip that helps keep your pelvis level and your knee straight when standing on one leg. The clamshell exercise (above left) is a great way to isolate that muscle. Lie on your side, rolled slightly forward, keep your feet together, and lift your top knee. Be careful not to lift so far that you roll your hips back! Work up to performing 3 sets of 10. When that gets easy, perform side stepping with a band at your ankles to work the same muscle in a more functional position.
The gluteus maximus is your buttocks muscle. This muscle is also very important for proper form with running. To strengthen this area, perform a bridge exercise. Lying on back with knees bent, engage your stomach muscles to keep your back flat and push through your heels as you squeeze your buttocks to lift up your hips. You should not feel this exercise in your back! Work up to 3 sets of 10 and when that gets easy, try performing the same exercise on one leg at a time.
Need More Help?
If you are experiencing pain with running, are thinking about getting into running, or even want to improve your running performance, the physical therapists at Girl Fit are here to help!
- Schedule an 1 on 1 appointment and we can video your running form and perform an evaluation to find any areas of weakness or tightness that might lead to injury or impair your performance. Watching the way that you run allows the physical therapist to target potential pitfalls in your form and prescribe specific exercises, stretches, and drills to correct your technique in order to resolve pain and improve efficiency.
- Join our walking or running club for women to build up your endurance under the supervision of our awesome PTs!
- Contact us today to find out more about these opportunities!