Does running need to be taught?
It would seem that running is a natural, simple and easily accessible activity that can be the first step towards a healthy lifestyle. Among physically active Poles the most popular is cycling, but just behind it is running. It is becoming an increasingly popular sport among Poles and its popularity is growing every year. This is supported by the running fashion promoted in social media, which is promoted as "easy and accessible to everyone". The popularity of running is easy to notice when we look at the turnout of amateur runs organized several times a year in many Polish cities. Thousands of people, often people who work several hours a day at a computer and are physically inactive, put on colorful T-shirts and run kilometers with a smile on their lips and a pain in their knee. The idea of "beating yourself" and "overcoming your weaknesses" reigns supreme among the slogans promoting such events and encourages everyone willing to participate and run even five kilometers.
FOOT DURING RUNNING
When the foot makes contact with the ground, the body is subjected to enormous loads, which are taken up by muscles, joints, ligaments and bone structures. The foot consists of 20 muscles and 26 bones and has the function of cushioning our body during contact with the ground. The mobility of the ankle joint, but also the strength of the muscles located in the foot is important in terms of generating the explosive force during the detachment of the foot from the ground, which in turn translates into running speed. It is worth paying attention to exercises that increase flexibility of our foot and improve its mobility. A good solution may be a lacrosse ball or a regular tennis ball, which can be used to relax the plantar fascia. It is worth mentioning that inflammation of this structure is one of the most common injuries of runners. Another step may be to roll the shin muscles, as excessive tension in these muscles can cause pain in the tibias after running. After such a self-massage, you can move on to mobilization exercises to improve the range of motion in the ankle joint focusing on dorsiflexion and sole flexion.
An important element in the prevention of running injuries is to determine the profile of the foot. This will allow you to choose the right shoes or, optionally, shoe inserts that will compensate for the work of the foot. It is also important to adjust the intensity and volume of training, because an attempt to catch up with more experienced runners may result in an injury, such as a fatigue fracture. This results from insufficient preparation of the skeletal and muscular system for a given effort.
The knee is the largest joint in the human body, connecting the femur to the tibia. At the front of the joint is the kneecap, whose task is to transmit dynamic forces, which is particularly important during running. The knee joint is stabilized by muscles and ligaments. Muscle strength has a great impact on the stability of our knee, in addition to taking care of the proper muscle balance in both the right and left leg, as well as the appropriate flexibility of all structures. Another very important structure is the iliotibial band, which is located on the lateral surface of the thigh. It begins at the level of the pelvis, attaches to the buttock muscles, and extends all the way to the tibia. The patellofemoral band syndrome is the second most common injury in runners. It can manifest itself as a burning pain in the lateral part of the knee that intensifies during running.
THE PELVIS- DOES IT AFFECT KNEE PAIN?
The hip joint connects the thigh bone to the pelvis. Its most important function is to transfer the weight of the body from the torso to the lower limbs, and it also enables their movement in several planes. The pelvis is made up of three bones: the hip, ischium and pubis, which are connected by acetabulum and provide attachment points for many muscles.
The stability of this region is extremely important for right movement patterns both at stillness and during running. A large role in stabilizing the pelvis during running is played by the gluteal muscles. When these muscles are inefficient and weak, the role of the stabilizer is taken over by the fascia lata, which promotes the tension of the iliotibial band, which at the same time lack of flexibility leads to overload and pain, e.g. in the knee area. We can see how much dependence occurs in the pelvis-knee line and neglect of one of these regions can cause failure and pain in the other.
HOW TO REDUCE INJURIES?
"Movement is created by an imbalance"-these words were spoken by Leonardo da Vinci several centuries ago, but they perfectly capture the basics of running as a discipline. Running movement starts with getting out of balance and moving your body in space. In execution of the movement helps the force of gravity, but also the flexibility of our muscles, the force generated by them and finally the reaction of the ground (the force exerted by the ground on the body in contact with it). Therefore, even before starting a recreational run, it is worth to assess the stability, flexibility of muscles and range of motion in the joints, as well as to select appropriate exercises that will allow to "fix" the weak points in the body. Ideally, you should consult with a physiotherapist or a coach of motor preparation, who will conduct appropriate tests, discuss their results and suggest necessary actions.
In addition to a professional assessment of the functional fitness of the body, remember to start with the method of small steps. Beginning runners often seek motivation by training with people of a higher level than them, trying to catch up with them. Such practices often end in hip, knee, or ankle pain.
If you need advice and an expert assessment of your body for running, check out our Run Fitting project!