Run to get fit or get fit to run?
When we are children we can run around all day and night, never feeling the effects of our running and rarely develop any kind of long-term injuries. As we grow into adulthood our bodies stop being so pliable and we develop a kind of rigidity that leads to an increased likelihood of injury.
The biggest change from youth to adulthood is our lifestyle. When we are young, we run around and seemingly feel elastic and bounce of the floor when we fall and our bodies adapt under stress to be able to handle such things. When we reach adulthood, we spend a majority of our days sat down at a desk or driving, and then return home to rest – with the likelihood of sitting in front of a tv or computer screen and therefore our body adapts to that stress in a different way.
Imagine, then, that we decide to suddenly take up a fitness routine – say running or attending a gym routine, 3 times a week, and how the body will respond to that, after living a sedentary pace for such a long time? The adaptations that the body has made over a number of years will likely hinder progress and it will take a great deal of effort to undo the cemented adaptation that has been reinforced for sitting for hours at a time in front of a screen, of sorts, and will likely lead to all manner of injuries as the body does its best to adjust to your new way of living and exercising.
Therefore, I am very much of the opinion that we must first look at our posture and our core stability and learn to walk before we can run, in terms of increasing our strength and resilience in our search for improved fitness and to minimise the likelihood of continued injuries.
Let’s start with posture…
Changing our posture sounds easy but try holding your posture in the correct manner as you sit at your desk all day and you will find it an effort and probably very tiring. It takes consistent effort to re-educate the muscles and the brain/body connection but when you do this, you will find your breathing is easier and fuller, your body feels more aligned and you generally feel better – probably for getting more oxygen into your muscles.
If you maintain a poor posture during rest, that will equate to poor posture during movement. The problem with poor posture is that it compresses us and puts our joints in a non-optimal position causing strain on the musculature of the body, leading to an increased likelihood of injury.
What does correct posture look like?
Starting at the feet-
If you work hard at This vacuum, pulling in the stomach will make you look something like this 😉
If you are doing this correctly, holding correct posture should be like a miniature workout. Practice this every day, especially if you work at a desk with poor posture.
However, having good posture while stationary doesn’t mean that it transfers when you are moving. Your posture can fall apart if you don’t have adequate core strength and intra-abdominal pressure.
Here is a video on how to get yourself started with better intra-abdominal pressure and core strength. These exercises are also phenomenal for spinal health and help with decompression.
Last but not least, the running itself!
Running is the last thing that you need to do at the beginning of your new fitness routine. If you are starting it for the first time there is a fantastic app that is funded by the NHS called the couch to 5km. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/
This app is great because it begins slowly and builds up gradually. Therefore, it doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints if you’re overweight or haven’t run in a long while and it is only to 5km, which is achievable! A lot of running injuries happen in the longer runs, i.e. 10km upwards, or if you run long distances multiple times a week.
For the most part, we can get away with poor mechanics in our daily lives, but when we add many repetitions of the same movement on top of that, the body struggles to adapt and that is why injuries follow.
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