It’s almost June. Sunshine is more abundant. Michiganders have been dying to get outside and start our activities. For many of us, that means heading our for a great run!

But, before you head out the door for your run, there are several things you should beware of. Particularly, things having to do with the typical runners body, because, well, let’s face it… Lots of runners run wrong. How else would we know about all of the common runner problems?

Most runners, however, think you simple throw on a pair of shoes, grab a water bottle and off you go. The truth is, this is how so many runners get hurt. Have you ever watched a group of runners? Some stand upright, others angle in, some clomp, others seem to float, some have a wide stride while others have short staccato steps. Well, does it matter?

We see lots of people at the Verdurous Me Wellness Center and runners are by far one of the easiest groups to spot. Why? Because so many runners fall into the common issues of not being body aware when it comes to their favorite past-time. So, let’s take a look at some of the common mistakes that runners make to help you avoid damaging your ability to enjoy your sport:

You have probably heard it before, but proper shoes are critically important to running. The impact of running can equate to about 3 times your body weight as each foot hits the ground. Because of this, the wear and tear on running shoes occurs at a much faster rate. This means that running shoes will likely need to be replaced well before they “look” like they do. Without paying close attention to the soles and treads of your shoes, you are likely to give way to gait changes that are not for the better. And even if you maintain a proper rotation of running shoes, a gait analysis and adjustment are probably needed. Fortunately, expensive machines and videos aren’t always needed. A simple solution is at the end of this blog.

A common problem with runners is knee pain caused by imbalanced thigh muscles. When we run we are only on one leg at a time. If the muscles that control that leg can’t control it well, the knees can cave inward. This often goes unnoticed by a runner who never looks down at their knees. Slowly, the inner thigh muscles (the adductors) get tighter. Most runners that aren’t having anyone assess their gait will continue to run until that one day when they get a strange pain in their kneecap caused by improper impact due to improperly rotated legs. Proper loosening of those tight adductors and strengthening of weak glutes can make a huge difference.

Our pelvis is probably the most important bone to be aware of when it comes to running. However, we often hear more about our extremities when running is discussed. Our hips are the central point for the running movement. And the basic fact is, if it is immobilized, we simply aren’t going anywhere. What we need to know about the pelvis has to do with the pelvic floor and the deep pelvic muscles. We require them to have the flexibility that allows us range of motion. From deep muscles like the psoas to lower SI joint muscles, we have to find ways to keep them properly mobile. You don’t need to do the splits but knowing whether you have balanced flexibility in the hips can be the difference between running fast and efficient and clomping like a horse.

Running and tight hamstrings seem to go hand in hand. If you run properly, the back of your legs are your powerhouse to propel you with speed. It’s a great thing, until you can’t straighten your legs or touch your toes. Hamstrings are a group of muscles that are difficult to loosen. So for the seasoned runner, you have your work cut out for you and you likely need some assistance keeping a healthy hamstring length. For new runners, start your stretching now! You’ll be grateful down the road. Just remember that there are different ways to stretch and some very helpful tips to how to do it correctly. For example: Foam roll first, stretch second. And holding stretches for less than 30 seconds is a waste of time. Need help or more tips, keep reading.

Our center of gravity helps us balance the body as we walk, run, jump, etc. We can alter our center of gravity, and unfortunately not always for the best. While holding your head tall and your body in a mostly upright position is great for walking, when we run it is not. There are major muscle groups in the body. When we do anything requiring power and speed, there is a requirement for engaging one of these muscle groups. If you are running, specifically it’s the glutes. Our glute muscles are designed to push and are therefore meant to be behind us to provide force. But, when runners run upright, they inhibit the muscles from doing their job. By keeping the head in front of the chest and hinging slightly lower to the ground our glutes can provide what we need to keep our center of gravity lower. This way we can power through a run with the ability we are meant to have.

So, what if you don’t know what kind of runner you are, or what if you do know and you have recognized that you need a new pair of shoes, need your gait checked, have imbalanced tight muscles or need some additional tips? We have a couple of options for you here at the Verdurous Me Wellness Center:

Sign up for our Runner Gait & Pain Avoidance Workshop on Tuesday, July 11th @ 7p (it’s only $10) or
Schedule a Private 60 Minute Appointment with our Therapeutic Massage Specialist who specializes in Runner Gait (private intro price is $54)

Either way you, you will gain some excellent guidance on being a body aware runner.

Verdurous Me Wellness Center