Hey Runners! Did you know that rest isn’t always the best (or only) answer to an injury?
If you’ve ever been injured but avoided seeing a healthcare professional because you were afraid they’d tell you to stop running - read on!
Of course, rest has a place in the management of acute injuries and stress fractures.
However, if you have a chronic issue or one that seems to bounce around from place to place or never fully resolves no matter how much you rest or how carefully you return to running, it might be time to rethink your strategy.
Complete rest can just exacerbate weakness and imbalances as a result of further deconditioning of the structures and their support systems you were attempting to heal by resting.
Careful, specific loading of the tissues can help with repair, as long as the loads are appropriate.
So, the next time you are dealing with injury, especially a chronic issue, don’t rely on the same old strategies that haven’t gotten you anywhere in the long run.
Consistency is the biggest factor in your running success over time, so instead of being reactive to injuries and waiting til they appear to throw everything at them but the kitchen sink, focus on proactive strategies like regular mobility, stability, and strength work.
Why These Strategies Matter:
Mobility ensures you have the proper range of motion for running without compensating in ways that can lead to increased injury risk.
Stability ensures you have control over the quality of your movement and the distribution of loads and stresses on your body.
Strength promotes durability of the structures like bones, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Proactive strategies can prevent you from having to take time off of running in the first place. But if you find yourself dealing with injury, a different approach could help.
How to Implement Them:
There are a myriad of ways to implement the strategies listed above. Our Run Empowered program, a comprehensive strength program designed specifically for runners, is built to address everything from mobility and stability to strength and power to help you eliminate the guesswork.
One thing that we incorporate on a regular basis in the Run Empowered strength program are eccentric exercises.
Eccentric exercises, where the muscle is lengthening under tension, tend to be especially beneficial for building resilience of muscles and tendons in particular. Tendons are the mechanical link between muscles and bones and are susceptible to overuse irritation.
Here are a couple examples of exercises we might use to help improve the resilience of a couple of places that seem to be particularly susceptible to injury: hamstrings and hip flexors.
Glute Bridge with Eccentric Val Slide:
This exercise is fantastic for building hamstring resilience, especially if you’ve ever struggle with high hamstring issues.
In this exercise, you begin in a glute bridge with slides under your feet. (You don’t have to buy fancy equipment to do this. You could just wear socks and do this on hard flooring, or I’ve even seen folks use furniture slides!)
From the top of your bridge, lift your toes and gently dig your heels into the ground.
Gradually slide your heels out away from your butt - keep it slow and controlled
Keep your back on the ground as you slide your heels back in
Return to your glute bridge and repeat
Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps
High Plank Psoas March
This exercise is great for building the resilience and elastic energy of your hip flexors, with the added benefit of improving your core stability.
Start in a plank on a bench, chair or other low surface with a small round resistance band around your forefeet.
Energetically drive one knee forward against the resistance of the band. Aim for around 90 degrees of bend in your hip.
This video shows a regular tempo. In order to make this an eccentric exercise, lower your foot back down to the ground slowly, taking about 3-5 seconds.
Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps per leg (alternating your march or doing all reps on one side and then the other are both fine!)
Incorporating eccentrics are just one way to enhance your durability, resilience and resistance to injury, but they are a great addition to any training program for runners!
If you're interested in learning how to incorporate strength training into your weekly routine to help you run faster, run farther and finish stronger, check out Run Empowered, our running-specific strength program! Get access to a plan and a coach to help you crush your goals!