Running, you either love to run or you hate to run. For those that love to run, it’s not just a form of exercise, it’s a passion. The passion often gets us up at 4am to beat the heat and get us on the road, track or trails to complete our runs before work or after a long day while sitting in a chair. Warm ups are optional. What’s wrong with just putting your shoes on after getting out of bed or work to go for a run? Let’s look at some issues with just getting out and moving…
Although sleeping is a passive activity, which does not require muscle activation, it creates prolonged positions that may contribute to muscle flexibility and joint restrictions. Let’s look at sleeping on your side for example. While sleeping on your side, typically your knees are bent in a fetal position. What’s happening in the fetal position? Your hip flexors are in a shortened position. How about when sleeping on your stomach? While on your stomach, your low back may be in an arched position keeping your low back muscles tight. The muscle stiffness created from being in the above stated sleeping positions will create significant limitations in creating optimal running form.
I think by now you’ve heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking.” This is a harsh statement, but true! Sitting for too long can contribute to many dysfunctions one of which is that sitting creates significant stiffness through your hip flexors which, which just like when sleeping, contributes to significant limitations in optimal running form. This pervasive activity also effectively shuts down the gluteal muscles- loss of optimal function of these will lead to a multitude of dysfunction.
After you jump out of bed or jump up from your work chair at the end of the day, give this dynamic stretch a try before you go for a run. This dynamic stretch will loosen-up your hip flexors, lengthen your hamstrings, improve your potential for glute muscle activation, which will allow you the opportunity to optimize your running form.
Keep in mind though, running form is a coordination of may moving parts and just stretching alone may not fix a dysfunctional running gait.
A thorough running gait analysis with an in-depth evaluation of your flexibility, joint range of motion and strength will help to determine the exact mechanics which may be contributing to your aches or pains or difficulty with running and here are Foundation Physical Therapy/Chandler Physical Therapy we can provide you with this type of assessment.