Categories
Running form Training tips

Selecting a Running Shoe – Injured Runner

Selecting the right running shoe can be a confusing venture. This guide will help you navigate the shoe market and prepare you for a great running experience. Specialty running stores are the best place to make your initial purchase. They will have knowledgeable staff that can help you find the perfect shoe. Chain stores usually do not have staff trained to offer you the best advice. However, with the use of this guide and some patience to try on a number of shoes you can find a great match.

Foot Type

There are three basic foot types and running shoes come in slightly different shapes to match these foot types. This chart demonstrates the relationship of foot type, alignment and running shoe shape as well as a general list of brands that match the foot type. An easy way to assess your foot type is to look at the impression you leave when your foot is wet. We used to recommend cushion type shoes for runners with high arched feet, neutral shoes for normal arched feet and motion control shoes for runners with flat feet. However, recent research suggests that a neutral shoe works very well for most people. So, don’t start off by spending a lot of money on a specialty motion control shoe. Select a neutral shoe that fits you well.

A Perfect Fit

Now that you are aware of the different foot types you will need to try a variety of brands and styles to find the perfect fit. Each shoe model and make will have a slightly different shape (curved line in the table), contour, forefoot width and heel width. The following list will guide you to a perfect fit.

Shoe shape – Foot shape varies, some feet are relatively straight and others have a bit of a curve to them (see chart). When you go to the store take a look at all of the running shoes and look for the general shape that matches your foot type (higher arched feet are more curved and flatter feet are more straight). Another approach to ensure that you are getting a good match is to pull the insole out of the shoe you are trying on and stand on it to see if it matches the outline of your foot. Matching the shoe shape to your foot is perhaps the most important part of selecting the right running shoe for you. Be patient and try on several different shoes.

Forefoot width – Some people are more comfortable with a snug fit while others like a little room to wiggle the toes. This is a preference issue; research has shown that it does not effect the mechanics.

Length – When you are standing and laced up there should be a little finger’s width gap between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.

Heel cup – Heels vary in their width so you will need to try on different shoes to find the brand or model that cradles your heel snuggly.

Points to Consider

  • Selecting a shoe that matches your foot type and provides you with a perfect fit is more important than the technological features. Don’t be wooed by the latest feature.
  • A quality running shoe typically retails for at least £70. Beware of shoes that retail for less than this because they are often replicas or lower quality models.
  • Shoes require about 24 hours to recover following a run (yes, they recover faster in the fridge). Don’t wear your training shoes when you are not training. If you train twice per day you should have at least two pairs of training shoes.
  • Replace your shoes regularly. In a recent survey, runners training in a pair of shoes for more than four months were more likely to be injured. If you are beginning to feel more aches and pains the first thing you should consider is how much use your shoes have had. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how much training a shoe will be able to sustain and still offer you the support and cushioning you need. Runners who train on trails and have great biomechanics may not need new shoes as frequently.   If you have to run on sidewalks or have a larger frame, you may want to consider replacing your shoes more frequently.

Minimalist shoes are designed to feel like you are running barefoot but offer some protection. Running barefoot or in minimalist shoes can be truly exhilarating, however, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.

  • Minimalist shoes or barefoot running does not prevent or cure running injuries, or at least there has not been sufficient research published to make this claim. One study showed that runners who ran with more of a forefoot contact (which running barefoot or in minimalist shoes promotes)had fewer knee and hip injuries but they had more foot and ankle injuries. So, the overall injury rate was essentially the same just different locations.
  • Minimalist shoes or barefoot running does not improve running efficiency. The recent dissertation of Allison Gruber at the University of Massachesetts compared running efficiency of runners that landed on their forefoot to runners that initially contacted with their heel and found that the efficiency of both styles was essentially the same with the possibility of less energy needed for runners that initially heel contact.
  • I do feel that running in minimalist shoes or barefoot can be beneficial. To me the potential benefit of this type of running is that it strengthens the foot muscles and can help you sense how much impact you are causing when you land. If you land hard you can adjust your gait and run smoother or with less impact. I also recommend not running more than 5 percent of your total mileage in minimalist shoes or barefoot unless you are quite experienced and gradually increase.
Categories
Training tips

Roman Chair training – The Injured Runner

Repeatedly raise your trunk to slightly above horizontal, then return to a hanging position. Try to keep your abdominal muscles drawn in slightly while elevating to keep your back relatively straight. Repeat ten to thirty times. To make this exercise more challenging hold the horizontal position for five seconds or try it with only one foot hooked.

Categories
Running form Training tips

Running Form – The Injured Runner

Runner’s come in many shapes, sizes and styles. One running form does not fit all people nor does it guarantee superior performance or freedom from injury. However, knowing some basic concepts can help you get the most out of your running experience. To keep it simple we like to use the acronym LARS. As you are running down the street or along a trail experiment with these concepts. It will take time to become proficient, but it is definitely worth your time.

Lean

Running is a series of controlled falls. By keeping your center of gravity slightly forward you move forward more naturally and with less energy. Stand tall and sense where the pressure in your foot is. For most people you will feel more pressure in the heel area. Now, keeping your body completely straight lean forward about 1inch pivoting at your ankle and keeping your body straight. You should now feel pressure towards the front or ball of your foot. This is the slight forward lean you should maintain while running.

Alignment

Keep the front of your knee positioned in line with the center of your foot. Your knee is designed to function primarily like a hinge. As runners fatigue or become inattentive to their form their knees may rotate or drift inward excessively and put extra strain on the knee. This extra strain leads to many injuries including: runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, shin splints and stress fractures.

Have a friend record you at the end of a run or race. You may be surprised to see how much your knees drift inward. Gluteal strengtghening and balance training are the best ways to improve the fitness of the muscles that control inward motion.

Relax

Allow your hands, shoulders and face to relax while running. Relaxation of these areas will conserve energy and allow for more fluid movement of your body.

Soft

Envision yourself as Pocahontas lightly running through the forest as opposed to King Kong stomping through New York City. Running on a treadmill is the best way to sense your impact because it is much easier to hear. You may be tempted to prance on your toes but that will quickly cause foot and heel pain. Focus on a soft, full shoe contact.

Remember, improving your running form takes time. By remembering the simple acronym LARS you can spend a few minutes during each running to give your running form a tune up.

Happy running!

Categories
Core training Cross training Training tips

Rope Jumping for Runners – The Injured Runner

Many of us haven’t touched a jump rope since school days. You may have memories of hours of fun while singing silly songs, embarrassment of your lack of coordination or fear of getting near the girls that could jump the shoes off of you.

Rope jumping can be an extremely effective supplement to your running program. With a little bit of effort you will run better, faster and with greater enjoyment. Rope jumping improves:

  • Running speed
  • Foot strength
  • Muscular balance
  • Coordination
  • Aerobic and anaerobic fitness

Rope Jumping Tips

If you are one of the many people who feel uncoordinated when rope jumping try “air jumping” or jumping without a rope. Simply jump as if you were spinning a rope until you become more confident, then add the rope in for a more vigorous work out and enhanced coordination.

Rope jumping is best performed on a firm surface. A wood floor, like a basketball court, is optimal but any firm surface will work.

Wear your running shoes when you jump to cushion and protect your feet. If you are “air jumping” you can train in the grass but it doesn’t work well for rope jumping.

Initially, start by jumping with both feet 20 times, then left foot 20 times, and then right foot 20 times. Gradually increase your number of hops rotating between double and single leg hops (see “Training Program”).

When you jump think of springing with your feet – your knees should be only slightly bent. Your heels should not touch or only touch very softly.

Listen to yourself jump. Jumps should be soft and rhythmic. If your jumps are strained and loud perform fewer hops but more sets (10 sets of 5 instead of 50 consecutive jumps) focusing on fewer but high quality jumps.

Use the circular motion of your wrists to spin the rope as opposed to using your arms.

Limit your rope jumping to twice per week. Once you have reached Step 3, one workout per week will maintain your gains.

Always jump the same number of jumps on each foot. If you can do 40 jumps on your right foot and 30 on your left then limit the hops to 30. You have been over training your dominant leg for years. This is the time to balance and restore symmetry.

rope-jumping_clip_image007-4923343Train pain free! If you can’t hop on one foot because of pain you will need to use a lower impact form of cross training (swimming, cycling, elliptical, rollerblading, etc.) until you can jump without pain. If you can jump without pain but at the end of your workout your heel / Achilles is tender for less than 10 minutes you may continue jump training.

If counting drives you crazy try singing one of those silly songs.

As you feel more comfortable try some variations: deeper knee bend, torso twist, side hops, double rope spin, weighted rope, etc.

Be patient and have fun with your rope jumping!

The Training Program

This is an example program, modify it to meet your needs.

Both Feet Right Foot Left Foot
Level 1

(210 total jumps)

20 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

Level 2*

(420 total jumps)

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

Level 3*

(690 total jumps)

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

50 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

50 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

20 jumps

30 jumps

40 jumps

50 jumps

40 jumps

30 jumps

20 jumps

*Only progress to the next level when you have no soreness the morning after your workout.

Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist

www.betterrunner.com

This article may be reproduced with appropriate reference.

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Categories
Cross training Running form Training tips

Backward Walking cross training – The Injured Runner

Backward walking is most safely performed on a treadmill and can be quite helpful for runner’s knee. Start out slow until you get the feel for backward walking. Try not to hold on to the rails or only hold lightly. Keep your first few sessions shorter until your calves get accustomed to this workout. You will probably find that increasing the treadmill elevation to 8-14% and the speed to a brisk or very brisk walk will give you a od workout.

Dr. Timothy Flynn (physical therapist and runner) contributed to much of the research on this exercise. Backward walking was initially used as a method of training for people with runner’s knees. The biomechanics of backward walking were found to put less pressure on the kneecap yet provide a good strengthening response for the quadriceps.

You may feel out of place doing this at a gym, but you will soon find several people asking what you are up to and may notice others joining in.

Researchers have evaluated heart rate and oxygen use during backward walking and found it to be similar to running.

Categories
Cross training Training tips

Swimming Cross Training – The Injured Runner

If you are an experienced swimmer and have access to a pool then swimming is a great alternative to running. You’ll get a whole body workout and easily elevate your heart rate with minimal stress on the legs. Some less experienced swimmers get frustrated with stroke or breathing technique and may prefer deep water running or swim aids.

For those who have gotten injured as they increase their mileage, supplementing your running program with swimming can improve your running times without the additional impact. Research conducted by the Milwaukee Heart Institute compared supplemental swimming to supplemental running. Participants increased their normal training by 10%, either more running or more swimming. After eight weeks both groups improved their 2 mile run times, although the run group was slightly faster.

Categories
Training tips

Injured Runner – eating before and During

Eating before you run can prevent low blood sugar. 

Things you might want to eat during running are sports gels and bars, and sports drinks or water.

Runners should eat more high-carbohydrate foods to keep their muscles fueled and avoid sugary foods, such as candy and soda, within an hour before hard exercise.