Running (and walking) is an incredibly functional movement; your body is literally built for it! The cross-body movement pattern of driving the opposite arm and leg forward in unison helps improve our coordination and stability by nurturing the relationship our disparate muscles share via the muscle fascia.
What is Fascia?
Basically, Fascia is connective tissue superficial to the muscles that helps connect them to other parts of the body. It’s been described as big rubber bands that help us transfer energy during certain movement (such as the see-saw/back-and-forth type movement involved in running….left, right, left, right). But this fascia can get stuck and lose some elasticity when we don’t move it to keep it loose! Then we are stuck with this rigid strap limiting our movement, instead of a supple rubber band which allows us to move and then “snap” back in place.
For more reading and understanding of fascia check out this link below to see how unhealthy fascia can lead to low back pain
– Your Research! Shoes are a major factor contributing to an effective running program, especially if you’re intending to run on asphalt and/or concrete surfaces.
– Your Homework! If you’ve set your sights on an upcoming run be it a 5k, 10k, marathon or more you need to give yourself adequate time to prepare if you want to finish without injury! There are “proper” running mechanics that will help you not only land a better time, but protect your body from the repetitive stress of running. Bend your arms at 90 degrees and pump them along with the opposite leg during stride, engage your core muscles for stability to avoid excess strain on your low back throughout the run, Relax the shoulders down onto the back and don’t over-stretch your stride length – keep it comfortable and you will be able to hold a steadier pace for a longer period of time. Seek the advice of a professional for help analyzing your gait and setting up an appropriate training program to prepare for your big run.
– Prepare! Be aware of your environment! Don’t decide at the last minute to go for a run at night, through a neighborhood with no sidewalks in all black! It sounds funny, but be aware that it is VERY difficult to see runners! Wear bright colored clothing – even reflective material if running at night. Also, be mindful of WHERE you are running. If you’re trying to achieve a multiple mile run you might easily find yourself in an area of the city that is not runner friendly or safe for that matter. Run with a buddy if possible or plan and drive your route ahead of time.
– Be a Hero! Running is one of those things people seem to think they can just pick up at any time and go-go-go! While we applaud your motivation, it’s important to approach it just like any other physical activity and ease into it to avoid injury. According to Runner’s World up to 66% of runners suffer an injury every year!!
– ALWAYS Run as FAR as you can! the 80/20 principal is widely used by many top endurance athletes. This means that 80% of their training is in the “low intensity” range (<77% max HR or breathing comfortably through the nose) and only 20% is at the moderate or higher intensity. For instance if you run 100 minutes per week, 80 of those should be in the low range, maybe 15 at moderate intensity (77 to 92% max HR, able to speak in short sentences) and 5 at high intensity (over 92% max HR and breathing as hard as you can after just a couple minutes).