Running is a great cardiovascular exercise that is convenient, time efficient and easy to do anytime, anywhere. For those of you that have ran a lot, you know how prone runners can be to injuries, especially overuse injuries (for example; achilles tendinitis, ITB syndrome, plantar fasciitis). When we are running, we are repetitively switching between a mini single leg squat on each leg, with flight time in between. In order to allow for the right muscles to ‘turn on’ and support our hips, knees and back when running, we need to ensure good mobility at the ankle joint. As the ankle is the first point of contact with the ground it is important to have good ankle dorsiflexion and eversion to allow our body to absorb shock and activate the correct muscle groups up the kinetic chain. Just as important as preparing our ankles for the impact of running is activating our glute muscles. These muscles are some of the string power muscles in our body that act to maintain correct alignment at the ankle, hip and spine when running to prevent injury. Some of the key exercises I do before I run each morning are ankle mobility and glute activation exercises. This prepares my body for the activity it is about to perform, helping reduce the risk of injury. See below for a couple of my go to exercises!
1. Ankle drives video:
a. Warming up the ankle and calf muscles in three planes of motion help fire
proprioceptors in the ankle joint which helps turn on muscles. By working into the
dorsiflexion motion, we improve our ability to absorb shock and load the glutes
when our foot hits the ground.
2. Band exercises video:
a. Using resistance bands, we can start to fire the glutes by working the legs in
three planes of motion. This will improve muscle recruitment during the single leg
phase of gait to reduce load on the low back and knees.
Written by: Paula Lamont, PT, DPT, CAFS,RYT