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Are you fit to run?

Published: January 9, 2020

With the new year now here a lot of you might have made a new year’s resolution to start jogging to “get fit”. Today I want to tell you why it might be better to spend the first month getting ‘fit to run’ rather than trying to run to get fit. It might mean that you can run easier and are able to avoid some of the injuries we see in the clinic in the first few months of every year.

You wouldn’t be in minority if you thought that running was an innate ability that we all have but the reality is that running is actually much more technical and requires more strength than most of us realise. If you are strong then you can better deal with the forces being applied to the body and control them to stay injury free. Just listen to yourself run, the noisier you are when you run the less efficiently you are dealing with the forces.

Let’s just think about some of the numbers associated with running for a second. If your goal is to run 5km (the distance covered in a Park Run on a Saturday morning) and your average stride length is 1m then you are going to take 5,000 steps during that run or 2,500 on each leg. We know from research that the lower part of the calf muscles and your achilles must deal with between 6.5 and 8 times your bodyweight with each step. The trouble arises with the rate at which that load is applied. The loading rate for running is very similar to that of jumping. Let’s think about that for a second: if I suggested to you that you jump 2,500 times than you might think that was a crazy target but wouldn’t think twice about attempting a 5km run. We also know that a single leg calf raise only generates about 25% of the load rate experienced during running so you would think that you should be able to do a lot more of them than jumping. And that is just the calves.

Let’s test that out.
Try standing on one leg with your hands against the wall so that we take balance out of the mix. Now try doing 25 or 30 calf raises on that one leg. Do you still think that you are strong enough to manage a 5km run?

The good news is that you can improve both the strength and endurance of those muscles with some carefully targeted exercises prior to starting a running program.

So, if you really want to start running you might be better off spending some time at the start of the year getting stronger to make the transition a bit easier on yourself. Come in a Free Initial Assessment today and we can assess the strength and endurance of the muscles you need to run more efficiently, identify any injuries that need to be addressed prior to starting the program and have a look at how you run. We can design a program that includes some supervised exercise sessions and a home program to address any areas we identify as a problems and even talk to you about simple technique changes you can make to run more efficiently and stay injury free in 2020.

We will be posting some simple exercise progressions like the video below for running through January so keep an eye on our Facebook page and on Instagram for those videos.