Disclaimer-photo is not of me on a run. It is of me frolicking in the sprinkler of my front yard, post-run 😂 photo-op!?
On to the topic at hand! Running form is huge to me. It’s made me consider a master’s in biomechanics when I sort of hate physics! I know I’m weird, but I’ve got this childish belief that if I run with perfect form I can run forever. Maybe more accurately, I loved how my PT doc put it yesterday morning-I can’t quote him exactly, but the jist of it was that he wanted to get me able to run long distances without feeling pain in my joints or back. (I would like to include tendons, cartilage, fascia, etc.) Tired is ok because I’m working hard, but pain is a different animal.
The last few weeks of physical therapy have been a whole new world to me. For now, it has taken the place of running. Though I’ve been running much of the last 20 years I’ve done basically 0 PT. Blame it on a limited scope of self-care. Now I have decided I want to be running til I’m 100 and in order to do that I’ve got to start taking better care of my body.
Backing up. I’ve had an achilles niggle for the past few months. I call it that because it’s never really hurt, but the fact that I can feel it gives me pause. Every time it starts to show its face I would try to double down on my form and back off on my training. Intensity and distance and the like. Much of the knowledge I’ve acquired of proper form has come from listening to various interviewed experts in a fabulous podcast I follow. These are a couple of my favorites on form.
The physical therapy I’m doing is very different from exercises I’ve done in the past. But it makes sense so I’m trusting and giving it my full attention. They’re working on building new neuromuscular pathways by doing routines in all 3 planes of movement.
Along with that, they have me strengthening my glutes, hips and core. Also something I’m already all about. One particular glute buster I’m loving is a stationary wall mini squat position. Allow me to paint a picture for you and give it a try! Let me know if you feel the burn too! Haha! Ok starting with feet a little more than hip-width apart press your knee into the wall. Your knees should be level and have a slight bend-not locked. Keep your body upright and arms out in front. Relax your shoulders! I tweaked my neck and upper back straining to maintain this posture once. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water like I did folks! In other words, if you can’t do 30 seconds on each side-start with what you can do. Also focus on keeping your weight over the middle of your foot. This is consistent with every exercise and stretch they have me do too. Apparently it’s key for good form and helps retrain your brain. Finally, make sure that knee stays centered over the mid-line of that foot. The move totally fries my booty. 30 seconds on each leg X2 sets.
When I ran with the therapist he gave me a few pointers to keep in mind. In theory, the strengthening and stretching I’m doing should allow my body to function properly while I’m running so I don’t have to think about it.
Looser upper body/allow the torso to move/relaxed shoulders
Arm swing in the proper plane of movement (sagital–forward and back, not side to side)
Relaxed hands (hold hands like you have a penny between your thumb and forefinger-OM)
Keep slight space between knees/don’t allow your foot strike to cross the midline of the body (belly button)
Slight forward lean at the ankles
And that’s pretty much it. It’s a work in progress for me and I’ve been putting a lot of hours into it. The fact that I haven’t run at all in the last month is starting to freak me out. Like I’m losing all my fitness. But I try to remember I’m letting my body heal for a stronger foundation.
Maybe one small step backward, hopefully two big steps forward. One foot in front of the other. Tally-ho!