Running to avoid being sedentary is the trending ‘one solution for all problems’ these days! Certainly with running, you are checking the non-sedentary box; but are you checking the physical fitness box as well?? This is what needs to be given some thought before you start running….
Although running is a fun way to stay active, it cannot suffice as an exercise to improve all essential fitness components. In fact, running leads to its own shares of stresses on your body. Your running enthusiasm may start dwindling if you fall into recurrent cycles of pain and running injuries….
So, is there any way to avoid this and still continue your fun runs?? The solution is to be a fit runner and not just run for fitness!!
Am I a fit runner if I have no pain while running??
Unfortunately, no pain or no difficulty while running does not automatically mean you are a fit runner. Everyone these days is a victim of sedentary lifestyle; be it a desk job, car driving or simply lazing around on a couch!
Sitting for such long hours has already made some changes in our body; which was never meant for sitting. The commonest term to define this is ‘muscle imbalance’.
Muscle imbalance is not an injury; it is just a state which makes your muscles more likely to get an injury
Muscle imbalance may not even cause a single symptom until you load/stress your body in some way
You may be giving your best ever running times and still have muscle imbalance!!
So what is muscle imbalance?
The human body is a mechanics marvel which functions on a fine balance between muscle flexibility and muscle strength. The human muscle is very responsive to postures and body movements. If kept in a single posture for long amounts of time, muscles tend to become tighter. In addition, this makes some other muscles weaker; because as we all know- every action has an equal and opposite reaction! And now, thanks to Newton and his laws, you have ended up with tight and weak musculature!
Running with such existing imbalances predisposes you to some common, very familiar injuries like-
· Foot and shin pains
· Low back pain
· Muscle strains
Initially these small aches are generally ignored as soreness, discomfort and as a part of ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy!
But an addition of such frequent micro-injuries and continuing sedentary patterns; can lead to a larger injury if ignored…
Can I get rid of this imbalance??
So for all of you who have started worrying now, this is the best news ever!! Muscle imbalance is reversible!!
You don’t even have to stop running till the imbalance is corrected. Muscle imbalance can be corrected by adding few simple exercises in your daily routine! Just don’t wait for symptoms to start dealing with it…
The first tiny step towards being a fit runner, is to get yourself assessed by a physiotherapist for finding out your muscle imbalances. Once you have your own muscle chart mapped out it is just a simple matter of stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weaker muscles!
I do proper stretching before running, how can my muscles still be tight??
Though warming-up and stretching is essential before running, this stretching is not enough to stretch out muscles which have shortened over years. A 10 second stretch just cannot reverse the effect of daily prolonged posture.
To correct imbalance, stretching needs to be accompanied by strengthening of the weaker muscle groups. Without simultaneous strengthening, it is as futile as straightening out a dog’s tail…
I do strengthening workouts in gym, is it enough??
Muscle strength is not judged only by how many kgs you are able to lift. A strong muscle helps you generate just enough force with the perfect movement pattern! A strong muscle allows you to perform any movement without stressing your joints!
Muscle imbalance changes the normal movement patterns into abnormal ones which put more loads on joints and makes you more fatigued. Optimal strengthening should restore the normal, energy-efficient movement patterns.
Also, strengthening has to be specific to you and the activity you want to do! If you want to run, modify your strengthening to suit your running demands!
Your physiotherapist will be able to identify weakness in specific groups and target them with exercises tailor-made for you!!
We are here to help you achieve just that!!
REHAB STATION is happy to announce our very own ’Runners clinic’
Here you will be assessed, consulted and prescribed exercises for all muscle groups, strength, flexibility, joint mobility and posture specific to running. We aim to correct your muscle imbalances and make you a fit runner!!
- Dr. Shriya Joshi (PT)
- Dr. Shriya Joshi (PT)
BPT, MPT Orthopedics
BPT, MPT Orthopedics
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