by Dr. Bob Irwin
I try to use the summer training to avoid injuries so that I can keep running. When I was younger I added plyometric exercises such as skips, butt kicks, high knees, and karaoke's, after I did barefoot speed workouts in the grass. They helped me stay healthy. I should have done them year round but the colder weather made it difficult. As my kids grew older I tried incorporating more cross training that included them. For example, we try to add long hikes each week to our routine. This builds strength especially when hill climbing is added while simultaneously decreasing the pounding that running does to your joints. This year due to a hip impingement injury, I have also added eccentric loading exercises. Eccentric contraction is the motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load. This exercise is what happens when running when we are continuously landing on one leg at a time.
Other examples of exercises I have added include different types of box jumps. I will step up on a 6 to 12 inch high box with my left leg then bring my right foot up on the box. Then I step back down on my left foot. I do 12 to 15 of those while leading with my left leg and then switch to my right leg. Usually I do 2 to 3 sets of this exercise. After a few weeks of this, I hold 2 to 3 pound weights in both hands to increase the load.
The next exercise is a lateral step on the box or a side step up with my left leg. Then I step down landing on the left leg on the other side of the box. Then I go the other direction on my right leg. I repeat this for 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12. Since running involves landing on one leg it is important to train our legs for this landing pattern. Related to this are two other training exercises I do. One is leg extensions. I tether a light weight approximately 10 to 15 pounds around my ankle and do 12 to 15 leg extensions with my left leg; then I switch to my right leg.
The other exercise is slides. I put a furniture sliding pad under one foot and do a reverse lunge. It allows one to smoothly engage your extensor chain. Most people who sit at desks all day tend to have some anterior hip tilting which disengages your glute muscles and inhibits your extensor chain, the hamstrings and gluteal muscles. This is a great way to reactivate those muscles. I typically try to do this group of exercises 2 to 3 times a week; or more if I am feeling stiffness in my hip. Sometimes I do a few of these activities before a run if I have been sitting a lot that day.
Hope this helps to keep your running injury free.
Robert Irwin D.C., Delmar Chiropractic, 204 Delaware Ave., Office (518) 439-7644