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How to Avoid a Common Cause of Running Injury

Runners Get Injured

Running can cause injuries. Runners get injured very, very often. One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine estimated that as many as 94% of all runners will sustain an injury severe enough to stop them running for a period of time.

That’s a staggering number, so anything you can do to minimise your chance of injury is worth exploring.

Frontal Plane Weakness

A common cause of many running injuries is lack of stability in the frontal plane. When running and your foot hits the ground you need to control a force of up to 3 times your body weight. If you are unable to control this force you will very likely pay the price with an injury.

So how can you tell if you have a frontal plane weakness BEFORE you get injured?

Ask your running buddy, coach or your health practitioner to observe you while running and check for any of the following signs of frontal plane weakness-

  1. When your foot hits the ground the hip on the same side will drift outward to the side

  2. When your foot hits the ground you will see your opposite hip drop toward the ground excessively. A drop of 5-10 degrees is OK but more than this can indicate a weakness

  3. When your foot hits the ground your knee on the same side will collapse inwards

A common factor that can explain these running problems is a lack of stability in the groups of muscles that run up along the side of the body from the outside of the foot to the pelvis and on to the lateral oblique abdominal muscles. This ‘lateral chain’ of muscles is very powerful and if you can improve the strength and stability of these muscles it would potentially have a powerful effect on how you can stabilise yourself in the frontal plane while running.

Exercises to Strengthen Lateral Chain Muscles

Two effective exercises are –

  1. Side Planks – Lay on your side and lift the opposite hip toward the ceiling. Only your foot and elbow should be touching the ground. Hold for up to 1 minute.Repeat 3 times each side

  2. Suit Case Carry- Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand up tall with good posture. Walk approx. 10 metres and then turn around switch the dumbbell to the other hand and walk back to the start position. Repeat 3 times.

Mark Uren is a Doctor of Chiropractic who practices in Lane Cove, NSW. He is a keen runner who has run competitively for over 40 years in distances from 5k to marathons and has been ranked in the top 5 Nationally. He has a special interest in helping active adults achieve their athletic best and age successfully.

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