It’s running season in Vermont. Every year, in late winter, early spring, competing in the marathon begins to show up as a goal of many physical therapy patients here in Burlington.  What is this desire to participate in a long run, regardless of whether or not one has ever been a runner?
Maybe it is the need to have a goal based on an outdoor activity, marking the beginning of the warm weather and the unofficial start of summer.  Perhaps it is an attempt to shed the winter layer which may have crept up over the long nights of winter.  For some, it is an annual tradition, a fun way to meet up with the same group of friends year after year, listen to drums and cheers as the finish line comes into view.
Here in the PT world, the injuries start coming in.  Low backs are sore, knees are cranky, ankles twist and necks are making things miserable, just to name a few.
Most of these injuries are preventable with a bit planning.  Here are a few tips to help prevent some of the more common problems.
First, have a plan for the distance you are running.  There are many great websites that help runners plan for safe mileage increases and planned days off.  Find a reliable source and stick with the plan.  Talk with other runners, find out if your increase is reasonable, or join a marathon running group.
Second, buy 2 pair of running shoes.  Alternate the shoes, so you are not faced with wet, overworn shoes the day of the race.  Protect the entire chain of contact from the foot to the low back by allowing the quality shoes to take the initial force.  Your ankles, knees, hips and low back will thank you.
Third, add a stretching program to the end of every run.  Yoga is a great way to add a quick, 5-8 minutes of stretching to your body to allow for maximum extensibility of your muscles while you work on strengthening your core stabilizers.
Here is a short yoga sequence to use at the end of your run:

3-5 sun breaths (standing straight, lift your arms up and over your head as you follow your breath)

Bend forward at the hips, touch the ground, knees can be bent. (Uttanasana)
Extend your spine forward on an inhale, exhale and fold.

Step back to downward facing dog and take 5 breaths.
Step one leg forward for lunge pose, hold for 2 breaths, lower back knee, inhale hands overhead, take 5 breaths.  (Stretches hip flexors)   
Step back to down dog and then repeat lunge sequence on other side.
Return to down dog, move forward to plank, and slowly lower yourself to the ground.

Baby cobra pose, with feet pointed straight back.

Finish in down dog, taking time to stretch the calves gently.
This sequence can be repeated 2-3 times at the end of the run to stretch the lower extremity muscles, work the upper body and strengthen the core.
Enjoy, and happy running.
~ Andrea Trombley PT, DPT, E-RYT
Looking for other ways to keep your body in balance for running?
Join us for two workshops great for runners:
Michelle Downing DPT, RYT is offering a Psoas Release Workshop Friday, April 19, 5:45-7: 15 pm.
Join Andrea Trombley PT, DPT, E-RYT for a Yoga Wall Workshop: Release Your Hamstrings workshop Friday, May 10, 5:45 – 7:15 

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