Updated: May 17
We are built to move. Our brains evolved to process information, integrate that information and produce the appropriate movement.
Two of the most familiar movement patterns your brain recognises is walking and running.
The body has been shaped by the brain to move, run, jump and explore.
As natural as all of these movement patterns may be you can still do them wrong.
Nothing is so easy you can't mess it up.
Look at milky cups of tea!
Most people get ready for running by, you guessed it running.
But would you get ready for a max deadlift attempt by doing a max deadlift attempt?
No, of course you wouldn't.
I don't need to prepare the body for walking so why is running any different I hear you cry.
Well i'll tell you why. When you run, the same as in walking you are spending 50% of the time on one leg. This needs balance, stability and a certain amount of strength. However, unlike walking the forces that your body experiences and hugely multiplied when running.
When you run up to three times your bodyweight can be hurtling up through your foot and dissipating through your lower body each time you strike the ground.
Now i'm no genius but that amount of force repeatedly is going to cause some problems if you aren't running right or you aren't conditioned for it.
Basic running isn't really classed as a tough exercise but my god it is. Without basic stability, strength and a good movement pattern running will get you injured.
It will just take a while.
I am going to list a few exercises to be done before you go out running to help you move better and more importantly help get everything working like it should so you can run better, for longer.
Let's start with the feet.
The feet are one of the most important parts of the body when it comes to movement and pain.
They have a huge amount of bones, tendons and muscles all working is unison. So when something goes wrong, it hurts. A lot.
Feet are built to be in contact with the ground. They feed our brains loads of information about the world we are moving in and they are built to move. But what do we do?
We shove them in restrictive shoes that don't allow them to do their job.
It's surprising how many people have lost the ability to control their feet or for their foot to even function like a foot at all.
Try this little exercise to start strengthening your feet AND to start building the control you might have lost.
Now that we have mentioned probably the most important thing for happy running, strong feet, Let's cover something thats the bane of most runners lives.
Shin splints and knee pain.
These bad boys can stop people running for good just because they are so damn painful and debilitating.
The good news is that you can get rid of them and for good.
With a bit of dedication you can actually strengthen the tibialis muscle that runs down the front of your shin.
It's not a muscle that people often think about but it helps pull the foot up when you step forward in the run. The same as the calf helps it extend.
Now people train calves all the time but folk rep out exercises for the tibialis. When this muscle is weak but gets asked to pull the foot forward repeatedly while receiving the heavy hits from pounding the pavement. Something is gonna give and that my friends is when shin splints develop.
You can help strengthen the tibialis with this simple little exercise below. Combine these with the 45 degree squat also in this video to make sure your knees are robust enough to handle all the miles you plan to get under your belt.
Lastly we'll come to your hips. Now they don't take the same amount of punishment as the feet, shins and knees but they do have quite a small range of movement when running.
If you don't work at keeping a healthy range of movement in the hips then you are going to lose the range you do have and the muscles around the joint wont activate fully, and that will lead to pain.
One of the best exercises for opening the hip and taking it through its full range of motion is the long lunge with hip drop from the Mobility Reset program.
Now that we've covered the range in the hips we need to mention stability and strength. because you need these just as much as range to keep you moving pain free.
Try this single leg hip rotation and it should highlight any control issues you have in the hips.
I have given you five really good running exercises that should be done as a warm up before you run and also as a cool down after. Just to help keep everything nice and happy.
These will get you started but the Vestibular and Mobility reset programs will identify and eliminate your balance and mobility restrictions.
Check them out here