As an avid runner and Chiropractor in Toronto, I am constantly observing the human form, mechanically and neurologically. I watch runners, I know my body, and I choose to empower myself and others to have the best potential in their running careers.
I encounter many people who have balance and tension issues in their bodies. Imbalances deriving from minor and major physical disturbances from the past (sports injuries, the bumps and tumbles of childhood, adolescent or teenage surgeries etc…), and moderate to severe levels of tension deriving from emotional or biochemical trauma buildup (negative life events, the overwhelming stress of school, jobs, careers; excess levels of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription strength, as well as poor food choices – fried/processed/dehydration/excess caffeine).
These balance and tension issues most often manifest in one-sided injuries in the mid to lower body, such as shin splints, knee pain, ankle pain, hip flexor problems, and more.
Whether you are a new or expert runner, if you have concerns about any recurring or new injuries, or you’d like to find out if you’ll be prone to future injuries or not, call me, and let’s check things out.
The following is an outline of the presentation I provide at Running Room clinics and to others about my chiropractic perspective on running, and how to have a long and injury-free running career!
Personally – in 10 years of fairly consistent running, and 6 races, I have only had one uncomfortable hamstring, and one sore knee, for a period of 1 week – and never any limiting injuries!!
“…My focus is on the integrity of the nervous system – specifically the elements connecting your master controlling brain to the nerve branches that control your organs – heart, lungs, your glands – adrenals, thyroid, your muscles and joints, and the positional sensors of your body that give you balance, coordination, and good posture.”
“…My intent when I do specific spinal adjustments on my practice members is to restore balance, and reduce tension from past stressors – physically, emotionally, and chemically, and to prevent the accumulation of further stress that is ever present in our lifestyle.”
In reality, running can be a negative stress if not performed properly, or if you run a lot on an unbalanced and tense core/spine/nervous system.
The main 5 elements I monitor and manage to increase performance:
- Post run – CRUCIAL to lengthen muscles after contraction.
- Ignoring will bite you in the future – chronically unstretched muscles might handle one type of activity well, but will not handle cross-training.
- Legs, back, chest – ladies will engage more pectoral muscles, and can prevent postural changes by stretching appropriately
- Shoes – arches – do you have the right shoe fit, style, and support – are orthotics (custom and NON) appropriate?
- Minimal shoes, Lightweight shoes – research is more readily available – ask a health professional; my opinion is if used for shorter distances, and gait patterns are modified accordingly, they can strengthen the feet and arches in some, but could caused injury in others…
- Gait (toe point)/foot strike (light) – watch for both toes pointed in the same forward direction – and minimize lateral toe point (out to the sides) if possible; strive to have your feet unheard when you run, to minimized shock through the legs, back and spine
- Even surfaces – there are very few even surfaces when you run outside; sidewalks are angled, so change it up – run with traffic and against, run the middle of a quiet street if need be for the flattest possible route.
- A tall Upper body, be aware of your hips, that they are engaging with your legs moving (the side to side swing to increase your stride length)
- Breathing – efficiency – stand tall, shoulders up, and breathing is at it’s easiest
- up – lean forward
- down – soft legs and tall, or lean forward and let your body float down
- easy – conversational
- work – some words
- real work – no words
- timing with your steps – most people let breathing be a secondary element – NOT a bad thing; I have noticed that when I match my breaths to my strides at certain intervals, I get more energy at the end of my run, and most higher performance athletes do this matching as well; it promotes proper CO2 output and sufficient O2 intake
- casual: 3 steps-1breath
- steady pace: 2steps-1breath
- speed work or sprinting: 1step-1breath
- Start SLOW – finish STRONG
- Challenge yourself slowly, besides hills, to increase strength and speed, even if it’s a strong run/sprint at the end of a run, force other muscles for 100meters or less.
Underlying imbalances do NOT always have pain associated with them – but can lead to issues down the road, from weeks to years, the little stressors we take for granted now, are what causes more rapid aging to occur – physically and functionally. Hip replacements, knee surgeries, back issues that seem to come from “nowhere”…