Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Workout Wednesday - Improving Your Running from the Ground Up

I have been running pretty regularly for almost 10 years now and have (luckily) not experienced any injuries or setbacks to my body from running.  One of the most important reasons related to not having a running related injury is from cross training.  I've spoken about the importance of incorporating yoga along with running and the benefits related to the strength building and stretch that happens during a regular yoga practice.  But today I'm focussing on a specific area of the body that can make or break our running enjoyment and success. - Our feet and ankles.

When I first started to run, I almost quit within the first week of my learn to run program.  My ankles were so sore that I could not walk without a limp.  I discussed my problem with the instructor of the running group and was told that it took a while for all of the little muscles around our ankles to strengthen.  He was right to an extent but I didn't want to wait for these muscles to strengthen on their own.  Looking for my own solution, I did a bit of research on ankles and feet.

Did you know that your feet and ankles consist of more than 26 bones, 36 joints (many of which are articulated) and hundreds of ligaments, muscles and tendons.  The structure of the foot allows for a great deal of movement and absorption of impact while we walk.  When we run, we increase that impact by a factor of 10.  Which is why proper footwear and building strength is crucial to helping with our running.  The stronger our feet and ankles are and the more we support them the more we increase our potential to run pain free and enjoy our run!

The move I found to alleviate the foot pain and help not only build stronger muscles to support my ankles and to stretch my calf was writing the alphabet with my foot.  It is one of the most simplest exercises to do and can be done virtually anywhere. 

  • Sitting down lift one foot from the floor.
  • With your toes and the ball of your foot write each letter of the alphabet.
  • Repeat with the other foot.
  • That's it.  I usually do this twice a day.

You can do this exercise anywhere, your desk at work, watching TV, basically anywhere you are sitting.  You can also pick upper case, lower case, cursive whatever you feel like writing.  This movement is great for allowing the foot to move through its full range of motion while stretching all of the muscles around the ankle and into the calf.  Strong ankles and flexible feet make for less chances for injury and a greater sense of stability on all different types of terrain.  Happy Running!

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