It was only around 2002/03 after a terribly painful experience in my first marathon that I finally let go of my attachments to “the old way” and started to Chi run full time. During the first 6 months of 2003 I finally felt like I “got it.” It was a feeling…
Prevent and Manage Running Injuries
It all comes down to your technique
Conventional wisdom says that if you’re a runner, you’re going to get injured. Not true! The idea that running causes injury is a myth that needs to be put to sleep – forever.
Runner’s knee, shin splints, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis – all the dreaded sideliners that put so many runners off their stride are, in most cases, preventable. In everyday living, accidents and injuries can happen. But just as a good, cautious driver has fewer accidents, someone who is using good running technique, will have fewer injuries. When you listen to your body, and are aware of its limits, you will have fewer injuries or potentially none at all.
We’ve heard countless stories of runners who “had” to stop because they were getting older and getting injured. What people call Runner’s Knee is the number one reason why most people quit their once-loved sport. Shin splints are another frequent culprit. Sometimes it just gets “too painful.”
Perhaps even more often we hear about people with a secret desire to run, but are afraid of the potential for injury. There are lots of 40-60 year-olds who think it’s too late to start running. They commonly ask, “Aren’t I too old to start running? Isn’t it too dangerous for someone my age?” Our answer in most cases is, “No, you’re not too old and running is NOT dangerous, if you run correctly.” ChiRunning teaches you how.
There are golf lessons and tennis lessons; there are lessons to make more money and lessons to carve wood. Taking lessons to do something well is not only the best way to get better at something, it’s also the best way to learn to do something SAFELY and enjoy it more.
The same holds true for running. Whether you’re just a regular jogger, a youngster who likes to burn off some steam, or one of us older folks running to keep fit and enjoy life, it’s all more enjoyable, and safer if you know what you’re doing. We get tons of letters from people telling us that making one or two simple changes has had a profound effect on their running. Now, one or two simple changes in your running form won’t prevent injury for a lifetime for most people, but a regular, committed ChiRunning practice can.
Top Ten Running Tips to Prevent and Manage Injuries
- Listen to your body and pay attention to pain
- When in pain, make a change in your running form
- Always run with great posture
- Run with a controlled fall
- Upgrade your running program gradually
- Land on your midfoot, not on your heels
- Start off every run slowly to warm up
- Shorten your stride at the beginning of your runs
- Don’t wear old running shoes
- Do deep slow stretches after your run
1. Listen to your body and pay attention to pain
This means just that. LISTEN. Get to know every nuance of your body. Pay attention to every detail. And then, do what you can to correct the cause of the problem. Learn the different voices of pain, just as a mother can tell whether her child’s cry is of hunger, anger or sleepiness.
We call it Body Sensing. Most people don’t take the time to listen to what their body is telling them. If your knee hurts, you’re probably landing too hard. If your calves ache, you’re probably pushing too hard. When you truly hear what your body is telling you, and then make the necessary adjustments, you can correct the situation before it turns to an injury. We’ll show you how to be a pro at it.
2. When in pain, make a change to your running form
When you’re in pain, figure out what you’re doing wrong and make a correction. If you’re in pain, you can almost always do something about it. If your knee hurts, it could be several things, but find out and make a change. You might be over striding or landing in front of you center of gravity or pronating. All these things can be adjusted and you can alleviate the pain and prevent long term injury.
3. Always run with great posture
Good posture is everything in T’ai Chi and in all movement. When your posture is aligned, all movement has a better chance of being correct. Good alignment is the foundation for efficient movement and promotes a healthy spine. Your chi moves up and down your spine. If you’re crooked, the flow of energy is inhibited and your movement will not be fluid. If you’re long, strong and tall (even if you’re short) your movement can flow more easily through that straight pipe. Your posture affects your breathing, your movement and even your digestion. Perfecting your posture is fundamental to a being pain-free and injury-free runner.
4. Run with a controlled fall
In ChiRunning, your upper body moves forward as your legs swing rearward. This is the type of balanced movement that makes an efficient runner. If you lead with your legs, you’re putting on the brakes with every foot strike and creating impact to your muscles and joints. Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain, and lower back pain can originate from the pounding that occurs when your foot strikes in front of you. We’ll show you how to change all of that, so you’ll never have to worry about impact injuries again.
5. Upgrade your running program gradually
Whenever you’re learning something new, upgrading your running schedule or adding speed or distance, take your time and don’t rush the process. If you try to do to much too soon, you’re writing a recipe for injury!! If your longest run is five miles, don’t try to run a marathon in three months. When you’re learning ChiRunning, don’t expect to perfect it in the first month. Pushing and forcing your way to a goal is a great way to get hurt. Set reasonable goals and take your time. Savor your experience and enjoy the process. You’ll run for the rest of your life if you take your time now.
6. Land on your midfoot, not on your heels
If you land heel first, you’re in for a world of hurt because of all the impact it creates to your legs. You could end up with bad knees, plantar fasciitis or sore quads. A mid-foot strike allows you to land softly without all the jarring that a heel strike creates. If you’re not a midfoot striker, we’ll be happy to show you how stop heel striking and avoid any future lower leg injuries.
7. Start every run slowly and warm up
Take your time getting started. Let your run unfold slowly before you ask it to pick up speed. This gives you a chance to listen to where you are tight. Work on the details of your running form during the first miles. Then, let speed work it’s way into your runs as you warm-up, loosen, and relax your body. You won’t get injured this way, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier your late-run experience can be.
8. Shorten your stride at the beginning of your runs
This tip goes right along with Tip #7. Make sure you’re stride is shorter during your warm-up period and you’ll never run the risk of over-stretching your muscles or pounding your legs with a lopey stride. It also forces you to slow down, especially if you have a tendency to be too fast at the beginning.
9. Old running shoes are worse than running barefoot.
After many months and miles the midsole gets compacted, the shoe loses flexibility and an injury is often the result. Get a new pair about every 500 miles. Shoes are very important, so invest your time and money wisely in finding out what is best for you.
10. Do deep slow stretches after your run
If you stick to a program of starting your runs slowly, you won’t have to stretch before running because you’ll be bringing your muscles into motion gradually. A good stretch should be slow and be held for 20-30 seconds. You can move and adjust within that stretch by doing slight adjustments, but stretching is the perfect time to practice your Body Sensing skills. Don’t push your stretch too far, but take your time and relax into a deep place of flexibility. Listen to what your muscles are telling you after your run and stretch them accordingly
These are just a few of things you can do to help put to sleep the myth that running causes injury. For everything you need to know about how to run injury-free for the rest of your life, get your copy of the ChiRunning book and DVD.
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