5 Exercises to Prevent Injuries
The “I” word is what we all dread of. Injuries are part and parcel of the life of a runner. Injuries can be in any part of the body but especially in lower extremities for a runner. Injuries like runners knee, ITBS, hamstring pull, achilles heel, plantar fasciitis, low back pain etc are the most common injuries which are avoidable with proper maintenance exercises.
Running itself is not enough to stay healthy and injury free. Apart from that various supplementary exercises are there to tone and strengthen the body. However, if you love to run then it is sometimes not possible to do a varied types of exercises because of fatigue and lack of time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have few selected exercises which we can do to ward off injuries. And as humans are slaves of routine, I have compiled few moves which target the major leg muscles and strengthen the core region and they don’t take much time.
I am in love with squats. Squats are essentially for quads, glutes and core. There are many varieties of squats and can be done differently from time to time to confuse the muscles. More confusion, more growth. But the basic premise of any kind of a squat is form. Maintaining proper form is of paramount importance.
1. Knees should never cross the toes at any point of time during the movement.
2. Back to be absolutely straight.
3. Keep looking straight. No looking down or up.
Coach Jay Johnson swears by this movement. And I second him for that. This single movement of a lunge activates core and fires up the glutes. An excellent exercise to ward off running injuries of any kind. Do follow Coach Jay’s Lunge Matrix and you will reap the benefits.
1. Knees should not cross the toes in forward movement.
2. Keep the back straight.
3. Look straight ahead.
4. Maintain balance by tensing the core.
5. Don’t take too short a step and don’t take too long a step to overstretch the groin.
Again a very important exercise to strengthen the glutes and lower back. I do it after my every run. Though they look a bit sissy type move but they are truly effective. As you keep doing them you can progress to dynamic versions of it.
1. Shoulders, stomach and knees to be in a straight line.
2. Knees directly above the heel and not crossing toes.
3. Knees to be facing straight ahead and not outside. Think as if holding a handball between the knees.
Apart from the lower body, upper body also needs to be strong enough to maintain a proper running form. They are simple to do and you can pop out a set or two anytime and anywhere.
Lower back takes a lot of beating during running, so it is imperative that this exercise be incorporated in your daily routine.
How to include these into your life and running?
This is what I do. I do the lunge matrix during warm up. Rest of the exercise after finishing the run. They don’t take more than 10 minutes to do. Pop out a couple of sets of 10-15 before you start to cool down or head for the shower. I don’t generally do them after long run but lunge matrix is a must and now a irreplaceable ingredient of my warm up routine.
Your body will thank you in the long run. Think these exercises as maintenance moves to keep you going without encountering any injury. By all means do other forms and types of exercise, if you have time and energy. But I strongly feel that these 5 exercises are a must for any runner to be strong and injury free.
Additional tip – Do squats, lunges and glute bridge barefoot to increase activation of ankle and foot muscles. Gradually increase the level of difficulties by adding dynamic movements.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
Do you have any staple strengthening move?
What do you feel about lunges?
I have not included planks because I feel I am already activating my core by the above exercises, so why tax the body more by staying still. What do you think?