By Patrick Desaulles
By Patrick Dessaulles
& Thomas Tran
Photography by Todd Duncan
location ron zalko fitness
Running can be both
invigorating and relaxing at the
same time. Yet, when injuries
hit, it can also become the
Due to the repetitive nature
of the sport, even small
inefficiencies and flaws in the
body’s biomechanical make-up
can lead to pain and injuries
that persist for months. It is
important to supplement running with training that improves
weaknesses and inefficiencies. Exercises need to address the
multitude of forces and stresses that the body encounters
while running. For injury prevention, exercises need to be
kept simple and implemented at least as often as the amount
that you run. Here are some drills intended to address key
aspects of the running biomechanics.
As you are running, it is easy to see that the body needs to
move horizontally to end up at an intended destination. The
more subtle components are the vertical, rotational and lateral
forces that the body must generate and withstand. These
demands are often overlooked and in doing so, will result in
overload to areas such as the knees, shins and calves.
Within the body, the hip and ankle joints are more able to
perform multi-directional tasks due to their anatomy. The
muscles that control the rotation and side to side stresses
in our body are generally smaller and weaker. Therefore, the
intensity for these exercises should be lower with focus on
smooth weight transfer and subtle (not severe) work at the
hips and ankles.
In order to encourage more hip and ankle control, start
parallel to the step and initiate the exercise by crossing over the
outside leg onto the step. Follow with the other leg so both are
on the step. The key is that while stepping up, your body and
legs end up facing 45 degrees away from your initial position.
Then step back down returning to the original position.
Complete sets from both sides of the step. Initially a slower
speed to get the rhythm is important then as you become
comfortable increase the speed.
Start exercise in an athletic
posture — hips, knees and ankles
slightly bent; feet shoulder width
apart in a staggered stance. Begin
to jump and turn to the side of
the forward leg. Simultaneously
bring the forward leg back and
vice versa. The end position should
have your body turned 90 degrees
away from original position with
the opposite foot now in front.
Repeat in the opposite direction.
Compressive forces can take their toll on your body. The muscles of the hip, knee and ankles are designed to help buffer the forces that
transfer through their corresponding joints. The goal is to have as many muscles as possible sharing the impact forces of running.
Crossover Jumping Jack
Perform a jumping jack by opening and closing your arms
and legs. However, instead of placing your feet side by side,
land with one foot crossed in front of the other to challenge
your ankle muscles. Repeat by crossing the other leg in front.
Striding Jump Downs
Begin as shown in Figure 1. Jump off the step with both legs
landing in a staggered position. Focus on a softer landing by
accepting weight through the buttocks, thighs and ankle muscles.
Jump back up onto the steps and repeat with the opposite stance to
complete the repetition.
Not only is the contribution of appropriate
muscles important, so is the timing of
activation. Perform these exercises slowly
to allow for weaker muscles to contribute
to the movements. Ensuring that the lower
abdomen is slightly tucked in is a good place
to start focusing before each repetition.
Tubing Wall March
Bring one thigh up to 90 degrees
using your abdominal and hip muscles.
Simultaneously engage the stance leg by
squeezing your buttocks, thigh and calf
muscle. Plant your leg and repeat the same
for the other leg to complete repetition. Start
with your leg moving straight up and down
and then move to crossing over midline and
Alternating Download Stepping
From an athletic posture, reach arms toward the ground as you
begin to bend gently at the waist while you take a step forward. Continue to
drive your body downward by bending the hips, knees then ankles. Uncoil
your body to return to standing then perform with your other leg to complete
repetition. Running is an endurance sport. Therefore, the goal is to work up
to 20 to 30 repetitions for each exercise within the circuit. Build up to three
continuous circuits. These drills are appropriate to use as warmup movements
before a run. Performing 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise can wake up the
stubborn muscles that are more difficult to activate. You are now more ready to
tackle the rigours of a long running season.
Thomas Tran(BScPT) and Patrick Dessaulles(MPT) are sport certificate
physiotherapists working at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre in
Vancouver. Along with living the west coast active lifestyle, they enjoy sharing their
concepts and programs designed to enhance the biomechanical wellness of others.