Running: Top tips to help decrease your pain and improve your performance

running imageRunning is a very popular choice of exercise among people wanting to improve their cardio, lose weight or decrease their stress levels. However injuries are very common with running as we often don’t run very well. We think (or assume) it’s a natural given talent but I often explain to people that to run well is acquiring a skill – just like shooting a hoop or kicking a ball accurately. Many of us run quite poorly and this leads to niggling injuries that tend to hang around for a long time and may even eventually stop us from running all together.

I did a course on the weekend run by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and was lead by Dr Christian Barton who is a world leader in running retraining. It’s his belief that running retraining is the key missing element of rehabilitation from an injury for many runners and/or athletes (and every day folk like you and me). The ability to teach people to simply run better combined with addressing the biomechanical issues that go with it will mean you can run longer, more efficiently and with less pain.

So if you are an injured runner but don’t want to give up on running all together then check out these top tips from Dr Christian Barton to help keep you moving:

  1. Increase your cadence. Take smaller and faster steps.
  2. You should be doing some type of strength and/or power based exercises aimed at the glutes/hamstrings/calf/soleus and foot intrinsic muscles.
  3. Don’t stress too much about where your foot is landing (mid foot Vs heel strike). Often the more you try to change this, the less natural it is, so its best to get your physio to assess whether changing foot strike position is ideal for you.
  4. Don’t assume a minimal shoe is best for you, if you don’t have the lower limb strength for this shoe type then you will be creating other problems somewhere else.
  5. If injured, learn to manage your load: decrease how far and how long you are running.

So if you enjoy running but are plagued by reoccurring or niggling injuries I highly recommend you come in to have your running assessed. Often simple cues combined with specific strength exercises can make a world of difference!