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Run Smarter to Run BETTER

6/4/15 9:54 AM

What can you do to make yourself a better runner? You have to do more than just run.


Running anywhere from 1 to 50 miles (at Onondaga Lake Parkway or Green Lakes?) is good training mentally and physically, but doesn't necessarily make you strong. It does not mean you have the best quads and leg strength. In fact, if that’s all you focus on, you probably actually have very weak legs. (Take a minute to let that soak in...)


When you run, think about your body as a human projectile. Better control and stability lead to better outcomes every time your foot hits the ground and you projectile yourself forward again! When you run an average of 9:30min/mile, your entire foot is on the ground for .3 seconds at a time. That is A LOT of force on the ground in a short amount of time - optimize it!


Running puts stress on your body. Over time, your body accommodates to this stress, but be careful not to overload because that is when things start to change and things start to hurt. Once something hurts, you change your form and it becomes poor...who can run well if they are hurting? Poor form leads to more stress and more pain. See the snowball effect going on here? And honestly, we’ve had enough snow this year!


Pain whether in your back, knee, hip, foot  - or anywhere - is merely a symptom of something, not the cause.


So what is the biomechanical cause of this pain? This typically stems from a lack of proper strength. We all have our own form of running. This is our own unique motor pattern. The best plan for EVERY runner, however, is to strengthen smartly. A good training paradigm is done in three phases:


Stability: Developing muscle memory through efficient motor pattern is the first building block of creating the right form for you. This means high reps and low weights; repetition, repetition.



Strength: Developing gross motor strength is very important as well. This must be done after form is developed or your efforts are lost to poor form and potentially working the wrong muscle too hard. This is when high intensity and heavy weights with low reps comes into play.


Power: This is the time when you recruit the right muscles and perform! This combines phase one and two with increased intensity and speed.



Did you know?? One of the weakest links in running comes from the inability to posture correctly and activate your gluteus maximus (buttocks) efficiently. One of the biggest mistakes runners make is relying too heavily on their quads and not enough through their hips and gluts. Leaning backwards while running forces you to use your quads too much (setting you up for knee injuries) and not enough from your hips. Forward movement of the body is propelled by hip extension. Any good runner has proper symmetry of the right muscles to make them a stronger runner. A Physical Therapist is a skilled clinician to assess your movement and create the proper strengthening program safely.


A Physical Therapist is a MOVEMENT SPECIALIST and has the skills to assess your movement pattern; monitoring when you have pain and at what phase of running. A PT will complete an evaluation of your entire movement pattern during running and at individual phases of running (foot strike, mid-stance, push-off, float, etc). From there, an individualized program can be developed to help you be a safe, smart runner....

and Run Happy!

Written by Mary Smith.

Mary Smith, PT is currently practicing as a Physical Therapist in our Baldwinsville office. She specializes in (and enjoys) treating injured runners to get them back to their craft, or simply reaching their best.

Topics: tips, running