The answer is knowledge.
Understanding how your body works for your sport can be the difference between endless struggle and finally breaking your personal best times and achieving your goals with joy. In my 15+ years working in this industry I would say the number one difference between athletes who succeed in the long run and those who succumb to injury is simple – it’s knowledge. Knowledge of their own body, how it works and doesn’t work, when to push, when to rest, the ability to listen to what your body is saying to you and knowing what to do to help yourself.
Understanding how your body moves
Have you ever wondered why your physio gave you that glute exercise when your knee was sore? You may remember something about getting your glutes going… But why do you need glutes working to prevent knee injuries?
The answer might be a bit boring and you may have heard it a million times before – but 95% of injuries suffered by runners are due to poor core, hip and joint stability and poor technique (which is often a by-product of poor core stability)!
Poor core and hip stability can cause anything from Achilles problems to runner’s knee, ITB issues, lower back pain, shin splints, calf tears, hip pain and sciatica.
Developing good core stability combined with the right hip and leg strength provides the stable base from which all your movement comes from. Imagine a bike frame made of rubber – it would bend and wobble all over the place. So will your core and hips when they have no strength. But give them a steel frame and suddenly your power out-put is massively improved – you have something to push off and absorb the impact.
And it’s not just in running that this kind of strength makes a difference. You will become more powerful in everyday life – from picking up the kids, carrying the shopping to sitting at your desk with less fatigue.
How your everyday posture influences how you run
Spend all day hunched over a computer? Think about how s slumping body position translates into your running posture – you can guarantee it will be the same! But what exactly will happen to your running? Let’s break it down:
Your head comes forward creating more weight and strain on your neck and upper back. Your upper body weight will be too far forward in your stride, your body will be out of alignment and you will essentially be pushing that weight in front of you. That means using your quads more and using your glutes less = less power = slower run!
Then your spine becomes rounded forward and your pelvis gets tucked too far under. Your Abs then switch off = shortened hip flexors and lengthened glutes = less power, less endurance as we stop using the most powerful muscle in our body – our glutes. Overused hip flexors = overused quads = sore knees, sore calves. And with our Abs switched off = no spinal stability = back pain!
What you do all day everyday can make a huge impact on your body and your performance and this comes from understanding what position or posture you are predominantly using. This is just one example of an everyday posture – and yes sitting might also be named the number one causer of ALL injuries known to man!
Understand how your body moves specific to you
How your body moves might be different to your training buddy and hence the exercises and stretches that you need might be very different too. There is no blanket number 1 exercise that all runners must do to nail their performance – sorry no magic pills or 5 second wonder cures! Therefore, understanding your own body and its peculiarities is vital to your success in your sport.
One of the most common pieces of misinformation I hear is that everyone must stretch their hamstrings – but what if you actually have long hamstring muscles? What happens when you over-stretch a muscle? Our hamstrings are the much maligned power houses of our lower body. When they work well they provide power to our stride, they work with our glutes to push our body forwards, they stabilise us when we land. But they need to be at an optimum length and strength to achieve this. Too short and you have no ability to power up the muscle fibres, too long and there is no strength.
Owner, Bodyneed Sports Clinic Ponsonby
If you want to understand how your body moves specific to your sport, know how your posture is affecting you and what imbalances you may have and what impact all of this has on your performance – talk to the endurance athlete specialists at bodyneed sports clinic.
Currently offering the practical workshop “Power Up Your Performance – the more you know the better you get” in 3 parts you will learn all of the above in detail specific to your own body – and also the tools you need to strengthen, lengthen, and avoid those nasty injuries so you can keep running.
Read more here: http://www.bodyneed.co.nz/community/workshops.html