Running is the most common form of structured exercise currently utilized by the general population. As the summer season begins, many will choose to train for and compete in a variety of racing options that are currently available. Among these options, marathons are a popular choice and require significant increases in training volume. Training for marathons requires a delicate balance between increasing running volume and avoiding injuries that affect performance or limit training.
The most common running injuries are termed microtraumatic or overuse injuries and include medial tibial stress syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome and patellofemoral syndrome. With overuse injuries, the most important component of prevention is a proper training schedule that allows for a gradual increase in volume and provides adequate periods of recovery. Additional factors, including shoe wear, orthotic use, training surface, nutrition, and running mechanics also play a part. This article will provide a list of exercises, aimed at prevention of many of the common injuries listed above. These exercises are meant to be used for injury prevention and should not be used in lieu of seeking the care of a health care provider should an injury occur.
Soft Tissue Rolling
Iliotibal Band Rolling
Lie on your side with your leg on the foam roller or ball. Increase the weight on your leg for a more intense mobilization, rolling up and down the leg. Perform 2-5 minutes on each leg.
Plantar Fascia Rolling
Sit with a tennis ball or softball underneath the foot. Grasp your toes and stretch your toes upward while rolling the ball along the foot. Increase the weight on your foot for a more intense mobilization. Perform 1-2 minutes each leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start in kneeling with one knee on the ground and the other leg in front. Avoid extending at the back, and move your pelvis forward. You should feel a stretch in the back leg. Perform three repetitions of 20 second holds.
Start in a lunge stance with your hands against the wall. Lunge forward until a stretch is felt in the back leg. The back foot should remain fully on the ground. Perform three repetitions of 20 second holds. This stretch should be performed with the knee straight and bent.
The most common exercises for the gluteus medius muscle are hip abduction and clam shells. Hip abduction is performed in a side-lying position with the back against the wall, the top leg straight and the bottom leg bent. Raise the top leg against the wall, stopping when the pelvis starts to hike. Perform three sets of twelve repetitions. This may be made more difficult with the use of leg weights.
Clam shells are performed in a side-lying position with the back against the wall and both legs bent. Raise your top knee off of the bottom knee, keeping your heels pressed together. Perform three sets of twelve repetitions. This may be made more difficult with the use of a band around the knees.
An easy exercise to target the gluteus maximus is bridging. Start lying on your back with your knees bent up and your feet on the ground. Avoid extending the back and raise your bottom off the ground. Perform three sets of twelve repetitions. This may be made more difficult by performing this exercise with a single leg.
Use of the heel raise exercise is an easy method to strengthen the calf muscles. Start standing on a single foot, near a table or wall if you require support for balance. Raise your heel off the ground, holding for a single count, before slowly lowering. Perform three sets of twenty repetitions.
To exercise the tibialis posterior, place a towel on tile or wooden floor, with a weight at one end. Place your foot on the other end of the towel and pull your foot inward without moving your knee. Perform three sets of twelve repetitions. A resistance band may be used instead of a towel.