Your checklist for a better run

Do you want to run again?

What keeps you from running now?  Injury?  Pain?  Leakage?

These are natural reasons to stop and seek treatment. Unfortunately, I have found that many people are afraid to return to running for fear of re-injury or exacerbation of symptoms.

Let me share a quick story with you. Georgia was a client of mine who stopped exercising because of back pain and she couldn’t run or jump without leaking.  She really wanted to run and return to exercise, but didn’t know where to start. (This step is often so overwhelming for people). Together we worked on a plan to gradually increase her ability to perform the tasks that were once difficult. She is now running and jumping without leaking, and has no back pain.

Here is her testimony, “My core feels like it is supporting me now. Before (Remedy PT) I would get injured so easily…working out feels so much better and my random back pain is no more.”

It may be helpful for you to know that you might not need to stop leaking before your run. You might not even need to be pain free before you run. You do however, need a guide to help you begin and a checklist to enable your confidence. The best part about being a physical therapist is seeing someone soar with confidence as they meet the goals they once thought unachievable. When I guide my client’s in a return to running program, I want them to understand how to manage their symptoms when they arise. I want them to trust their body. I want them to  know they are capable on their own. I want them to know they are resilient and not broken.

If you are the person who needs an extra dose of encouragement and empowerment to return to running, I have your guide right here.

Your checklist

I have created a 6 step list to problem solve the areas that can affect one’s run. If you have a specific injury please work with your physical therapist on your own unique recovery plan. By the way, this checklist can also be attributed to any other sport/exercise you desire to return to. Read below for a brief explanation of how to use the checklist.

Download the Checklist Here! 

  1. Impact – Either reduce the impact of the terrain or change the way the body accepts the load. If you have leakage or pain with high impact sports, consider these tips. Address the shock absorption of the shoes you are wearing or the terrain you are running on. When running, try to lighten load by reducing the heel strike for a softer approach.
  2. Pressure – Pressure management is extremely important when it comes to leaking with high impact sports. It can also affect the pain response. Holding your breath or shallow breathing while you run increases the intra-abdominal pressure which can negatively affect prolapse and leaking. Keeping a natural breath flow during a run allows for the pelvic floor to attenuate the impact. It also allows the rib cage more mobility to reduce neck and back tension during a run. Try to inhale for 3-4 strides and exhale for 3-4 strides.
  3. Posture/Movement – Training in a variety of movement planes is the best way to become a stronger runner. Running is typically in one direction, so challenge your body to accept load in all directions – not just the forward running plane. Unless you are an Olympic runner, perfect running form is rarely attainable. We all have our unique own movement patterns, so the goal is progress not perfection. However, there are a few things you can alter  in your form to reduce exacerbating symptoms.
    • Keep your eyes looking ahead of you and not down at the road.
    • Relax your hands and keep a good arm swing.
    • Relax your breathing and focus on natural trunk rotation.
    • Lean forward from your ankles for a forward angle when you run instead of a vertical angle.
    • Land softly on your feet and avoid a hard heel strike.
    • Increase your cadence for a better hip stride and reduction of vertical bounce.

  1. Strategy – This is where you become a more efficient runner. Challenge the load, speed, mobility, and strength of your entire body. Everything is connected.  You need good rib cage, ankle, and hip mobility, plus gluteal, hip, and core strength. Here is a video to test and train your hip strength and a video to test and train your foot and ankle control. For returning to running after childbirth, the experts advise a graded running program begin at 3 months postpartum. During this time, there are plenty of strength and low impact exercises you can engage in. Here is a video for 3 ways to land softer and run better.
  2. Lifestyle – Again, everything is connected. If you are running well, but experience a relapse of symptoms, don’t forget to consider the lifestyle factors. Stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and dehydration all affect your fitness level. Healthy food gives you available energy and is a necessary part of performing well. Adequate sleep restores your body after exercise so you can get stronger each and every day.  Each one is a unique part of the wellness cycle, and why I include them in my approach with my patients. 
  3. Mindset – Your story matters. Your health history, injury, symptoms, challenges, and reason to run are all entirely different than the next person. Do not compare your journey. What is most important is that you learn to challenge and trust your body during this process. Your past limitations do not determine your future. In his book, The Vision Driven Leader, Michael Hyatt says, “We tend to experience what we expect. That means the biggest barriers you and I face in life are often the ones living inside our heads. We create the fence that blocks our progress – not always, but more often than we’d probably care or dare to admit.” You are capable, believe in yourself.

I have loved helping women of all ages and with multiple hurdles return to running again. If you would like specific, focused, personalized help to return to running, contact me here.

For more a more in depth look at running performance, head here.

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