Blog for Patients

Running Injury Prevention Series: Week 3

Posted on: November 9th, 2022 by Dan Sivertson
Andrea Burley - Running Physio
Pure Form’s Andrea Burley (Physio) in her happy place

As I prepared to pick up the Running Injury Prevention Blog again and knowing I had really gotten behind in writing, I was feeling a tad silly for delaying so long. I wondered, “How did I get so far behind?!”. That is when I realized I could blame the Pandemic for getting me a wee behind schedule! So, let’s get back to it…

If you are reading this, please take some time to go back at least to the “week 2” blog as this instalment builds on those concepts.

In this blog I want to discuss what we see at Pure Form as one of the main issues with runners.  

Running is the act of taking off on one foot, flying through the air, and landing on the other foot.  Then second verse is the same as the first…. you keep making these crash landings until you are done with your race or training session. 

Here is where it gets interesting. Regardless of which potential source of injury you are talking about (weak glutes! bad shoes! Oh no!  low arches !!), all of these sources would only matter on landing, and not on takeoff. No one gets injured in the flight phase of running … it is the repeated rough landings that hurt your landing gear, such as your feet.  One solution to this is making sure you are an efficient spring when you land, so you can bounce into the next stride. 

In our clinic, when we assess runners with our Plantiga running assessment system , it becomes apparent that most runners are less springy on their injured side. Reactive Strength Index (RSI) is the biomechanical term to how springy your legs are.  We put the Plantiga sensors in your shoes and then get you to hop on 2 feet, then your left, and then your right.  Typically, in an injured runner, the injured leg has an RSI about 10-20 % lower than the non-injured side.  In other words, the data shows that the runner is less springy on that sore side.  

Being less springy means that you will have to work harder to run the same speed as a springier person (or a younger you!) and that you are more likely to get injured again. 

The type of exercises you would do to make you a better biological spring all involve hopping quickly. These can make you sore, and if you aren’t sure, please speak to your physio about whether you are ready for these yet. 

Here are a few drills to help you get your spring back for your final stages of recovery from an injury, to help you prevent a future injury, and to increase your running efficiency (= free speed!).  Try these 2-3 times per week as part of your warm up or by themselves. 

  1. Stand in one place and do small hops with different heights (a few hops at 30%, hops at 50%, and hops at 70% of their maximum). Try this for 30 sec, rest and for another 30 sec.
Running Injury Prevention - Hops
  1. Single leg hopping: Standing on one leg, bounce successively, keeping the knee, hip and torso stable. 15 – 30 sec x 2 can be tiring when you aren’t used to it. Talk to your physio if you have a sore Achilles or foot arch before doing this one. 
Running Injury Prevention - Single Leg Hops
  1. Scissor jumps: Stand in a lunge (split squat) with hips and knee all positioned at 90° degrees, the kneecaps aligned with 2nd toes, the back knee doesn’t touch the floor. Push and jump up and switch feet quickly so that when you land, you are in the same position, but feet are switched. Repeat quickly with control. Two sets of 10 of these would be plenty to begin with.
Running Injury Prevention - Scissor Jumps

These are just a few ideas. We have a lot more, and you can probably think of think of others.  If you are using a skipping rope, you are working on your RSI.  If you are doing your classic runner A, B, and C skips, you are working on your RSI. If you are working on increasing your cadence, which I discussed in week 2, you are working on your RSI. 

Just another word of caution… take it slow and only spend a couple of minutes, a few days per week doing these exercises. They should help you feel a little faster and help prevent some aches and pains later.  

Good luck. It’s a good day for a run! 

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”

~ Fred Lebow

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