Cheryl’s Personal Story: Running at 50
Running has been a constant in my life since I was in high school, but it hasn't always been easy. I've faced injuries and setbacks along the way, but I've also learned how to adapt and make changes to keep running as I've gotten older.
I was told to stop running after a tailbone injury in high school and again after a snowboard injury in my mid-20s. But I didn't let those setbacks keep me down. Instead, I found ways to modify my running routine and incorporate other exercises to support my body.
Now, at 50 years old, I continue to run 5 miles in the rolling hills with my boxer five days a week. How do I do it? By incorporating all the tips and strategies listed in this blog, as well as Pilates, GYROTONIC(R), and GYROKINESIS(R) exercises, into my exercise routine over 20 years ago. These exercises have helped me build strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which have contributed to my ability to keep running.
I firmly believe that it's never too late to start taking care of your body and incorporating exercise into your routine. If you're dealing with an injury or other limitations, don't give up on exercise altogether; instead, find ways to modify and adapt your routine to work with your body's needs.
Running Tips for Injury Prevention and Better Performance
Blue Belt Technique
One of the first things I teach my fitness clients is to put on their "Blue Belt".
In studio, I put a nylon belt around the bones of their pelvis and squeeze it pretty snugly so they could understand the sensation. It just so happens to be blue, which is why we call it the "blue belt".
When this belt is around the pelvis, it simulates the activation of three main muscle groups:
1. The Transverse Abdominus
2. The Pelvic Floor and
3. The Multifidus Muscles along the spine.
When these muscles are active, there is a support system in the body that facilitates relaxation in the neck and shoulders, effortless upright posture, and equal weight distribution among the feet. It evokes a feeling of physical peace.
Everyone’s first question is "Can we wear this all the time?". "NO!" If you were to wear this belt all the time, that muscle group would become weak and not support you at all. That’s a recipe for disaster.
At home, you can use any belt around your pelvis to simulate this tool. It can sometimes be difficult to get the belt tight enough on your own, so if you have the option, you might ask a buddy to help with this step.
Now, here’s the real goal: After you take your belt off, can you put your imaginary belt on? Remember the sensation and engage the same muscle groups. By doing this, you begin to train your muscles to support a posture that will decrease the stress on the body. This is true for all your daily activities, but especially when you’re exercising.
Remember the next time you’re out running to put on your imaginary "blue belt."
Lean Forward Slightly While Running
My second tip is to slightly lean forward when you run. Most running coaches recommend this lean, but the one thing that needs clarity is the place in your body where this lean is coming from.
Be careful not to lean forward from the hips or waist. If you lean from the hips or waist, it can put too much strain on your low back. Rather, this lean should be at the ankle joint.
Practice this standing still. Put on your imaginary belt, and then slightly lean forward from the ankle. It gives you the feeling of falling forward. If you’re doing this while you run, it will propel you forward. When you are being propelled forward during your run, your speed will increase.
Now, let's dive into some more tips on running.
Running is a well-liked workout that can aid with cardiovascular health, mood enhancement, and calorie burning. Whether you're an experienced runner or just getting started, it's crucial to take precautions to avoid injuries and enhance your performance. In this blog post, we'll provide some running safety and efficiency advice. Warm up and cool down properly.
Warming Up Before a Run
Before a run, warming up can help your body get ready for the physical demands of running, lower your risk of injury, and boost performance. Dynamic stretching should come after a brief round of light aerobic activity, such as jumping jacks or stationary jogging. In order to develop flexibility and mobility, dynamic stretching entails extending your joints through their complete range of motion. Leg swings, hip circles, and lunges are some effective dynamic stretches for runners.
It's crucial to cool down with some easy workouts and static stretching after your run. To increase flexibility and avoid muscular tightness, static stretching involves keeping a stretch in a still position for 30 seconds. Hamstring, calf, and quad stretches are a few effective static stretches for runners.
Strengthen Your Muscles and Core
Your running form can be improved, injury risk can be decreased, and performance can be increased by having strong muscles and a stable core. Planks, lunges, hip bridges, and squats are effective workouts for runners. To increase strength and power, you can also integrate resistance training with weights or resistance bands.
Gradually Increase Your Mileage and Intensity
To prevent overuse injuries and develop your endurance, it's crucial to gradually increase your mileage and intensity. As a general guideline, you should only increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. Interval training, hill repeats, and tempo runs are other ways to change the intensity of your workouts.
Wear Proper Shoes and Gear
Wearing the right footwear and accessories can help improve performance and lower the risk of injury. Look for running shoes that are supportive, cushioned, and stable for your foot type. To stay dry and comfortable throughout your runs, you might also wish to invest in apparel that wicks away moisture.
Watch Your Running Form
You may run more effectively and decrease your chance of injury by using proper running form. Keep your head up, shoulders back, arms straight, and fall on your forefoot or midfoot rather than your heel.
Listen to Your Body
Running requires paying attention to your body's signals. Stop running and sit down if you experience any pain or discomfort. Pushing through the discomfort puts you at risk for more severe damage.
Incorporate Cross-Training and Rest Days
Cross-training with different types of exercise, including swimming, cycling, or Pilates, can help you get fitter overall and lower your risk of getting hurt. Rest days are crucial to giving your body the time it needs to heal and recuperate from the physical strains of running.
Physical Therapy Studies:
Here are two studies conducted by physical therapists that provide insights into injury prevention and rehabilitation for runners:
- Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, et al. A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2002;36(2):95-101. doi:10.1136/bjsm.36.2.95
- Buist I, Bredeweg SW, Bessem B, van Mechelen W, Lemmink KA, Diercks RL. Incidence and risk factors of running-related injuries during preparation for a 4-mile recreational running event. Br J Sports Med. 2010;44(8):598-604. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.04886
- American Council on Exercise - Running Tips for Beginners
- Runner's World - See what they say about shoes in 2023
Incorporating these running tips into your routine can help you get the most out of your running experience while staying safe and injury-free. Remember to start slow, listen to your body, and have fun!
If you're interested in incorporating Pilates, Gyrotonic, or Gyrokinesis into your exercise routine, I invite you to call us at 512-215-4227 to get started with CORE Therapy & Pilates. We offer a range of services, including physical therapy and personalized exercise programs, to help you achieve your fitness goals and support your overall health and wellness.
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