While Bruce Springsteen said “Baby we were born to run” sometimes things are easier sung than done.
Running is a great activity that is both inexpensive and boasts many health benefits, however if not done properly and without proper recovery practices in place, it can also lead to injury, tightness and more.
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1. Trail Running
While it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing your usual run, adding a trail run into the mix can really boost your running performance. Every surface that you run on has its’ own unique and challenging features that force your body to adapt your stride and pace accordingly. This means that you will be engaging different muscle groups, paces and making damn sure you’re not going to get bored. Try leaving the pavement behind you and try an un-familiar surface to keep your body guessing. Explore the bush, woods, fields, cliff paths or beaches and see how different every surface feels.
2. Build your strength
Running has been known to cause muscle imbalances in some individuals which may result in tightness or even injury. Even if you have a great running technique things such as pro-longed sitting can cause your glutes and hip flexors to tighten, weaken or shut off. This can lead to lateral shifting and instability in the hips which down the track can start to affect your running and lead to all sorts of injuries. By incorporating strength training, be it body weight exercises, foam roller, free weights or ITB rehab into your training program, it may help to keep your muscles strong, healthy and less likely to get an injured.
3. Wear Compression Gear
Investing into quality compression training gear can have many benefits for runners. Compression is also proven to support and stabilise your muscles, minimising excess muscle vibration which in turn reduces fatigue and the risk of injury. Compression tops can also assist you with maintaining correct posture, supporting and stabilising your lower abdominals and lumbar spine and making you more aware of any slouching which can inhibit your breathing as you exercise. Quality compression wear will also be moisture wicking to keep you dry and comfortable and with sports compression’s proven circulatory benefits your body temperature is also better stabilised.
4. Hill sprints
Running is not just about endurance training: Your body also requires strength. To turn your regular run into a complete cardio and strength workout try doing Hill Sprints at the end of your long-distance run. This can help you gain a much more powerful stride.
E.g. To improve your hill sprints, run uphill for about 150 m at 90-95% of your maximum effort. Repeat this drill six to ten times. Make sure to take long, strides while keeping your core engaged. Rest on the walk or jog down the hill.
While stretching may seem way out of left field when it comes to improving your running performance it has so many benefits. Daily stretching helps to keep your muscles strong and healthy. By not stretching you can put your body at risk of muscle damage, strains and joint pain. The flexibility you gain from stretching helps you maintain motion in all your joints avoiding your muscles becoming tight and shortening. Particularly those of us with a desk job, sitting in a chair all day can lead to tight hamstrings which can affect straightening your knee in turn can affect your ability to walk and play sports.
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