Monday, June 13, 2016

Functional Knee Strength for Runners

Basic points in this article:

  • ·         It’s not the shoes, it’s you.
  • ·         Over %85 of runners will get injured. How to prevent it.
  • ·         Are you wogging?
  • ·         Running culture bases its beliefs on non-scientific principles.
  • ·         Strict vegan diets are dangerous for younger higher calorie burners.
  • ·         Train like an anti-runner.
  • ·         Lift! Heavy and often
  • ·         Mobilization for common knee problems.

  I just finished my annual Ottawa Race Weekend 10K this past weekend.  Each year I get a little bit more disillusioned with the running world. There is more training information out there than ever before. Shoes and clothing technology, as well as electronic gear for runners of all sorts. So why are there still so many horribly unfit runners out there?
  Of course I know the answer and I’ll share it with you.  Instead of getting real technical with the bio-mechanics of running, I think part of the blame falls to running culture. Each year at the trade show booths at run weekend I see the same theme. When I walked in the past few years I am bombarded with ads and displays for circuit conditioning classes, yoga for runners, compression everything and vegan food and supplements of every type imaginable. It dawned on me that in almost every sport I can think of, training science is moving its athletes forward. Some took a long time to get going but it is generally happening. Running culture is moving backwards.

  I think many people run for the enjoyment it brings. However there are many who are running for the wrong reasons. They run for the hope of fat loss. They run to fight the process of aging. They run to stay strong. They run for their health. If you are running for any of these reasons other than enjoyment then you are making a mistake.  Read any article by the worlds most renowned anti-aging doctors and you will find if you want to age yourself fastest, follow a vegan diet and run long distances. If you are running for your health, then let’s do it the right way.

  During my 10k run and watching some of the other races on the weekend, I witnessed a lot of people that did not look like they were enjoying themselves. I saw knee and hip alignments that looked as if they would collapse at any moment.  I saw people that didn’t seem to have any core strength at all. I saw people with an imbalance in musculature and overly tight joints with limited mobility. I saw people who did not have their heart rates under any type of control and looked to the point of exhaustion.  Something has got to change.
If you want to run, then train your body to be an anti-runner. By this, I mean do the training off the road that will keep you on the road and keep your tissue and joint health optimal.  Especially for those 35 and older.

  You need to strength train. Not cardio condition or yoga strength or body pump or circuit classes with light weights or even running on a treadmill in the water. Really strength train to build real muscle mass and burn real fat. Many runners fall into that "skinny fat" category. They have very poor structural posture, poor muscle tone and high body fat percentages.  Resistance training at least 3 X per week with a minimum 60% of your 1 RM will force your body to adapt to build muscle and strengthen connective tissues. What am I talking about?  See a professional at TopShape Fitness or follow my blog and Facebook.
For now here are some great exercises for glute strength. Try these 2x per week  Glute and core strength are essential for a strong running posture.

  You need to perform deep tissue work and range of motion work for structural imbalances and poor flexibility in the hip, back, knee and ankle joints. Your problem is you are WEAK.
Using barefoot shoes, minimalist shoes, support soles, rockers and compression socks is not your issue. Shoe technology and athletic wear has come a long way since 1981. What has also come a long way is the increase in running injuries. Over 85% of runners will suffer from a joint or connective tissue injury.  With so much information, why? It is because most North American’s WOG. They walk jog. It’s the same comparison I make to my clients all the time. Put a picture of a sprinter and a marathoner beside each other and find me the person who wants to look like the marathoner.  It is all bio-mechanics. Stop jogging and learn to sprint slower.

   Shorten the stride and up cadence. Studies have shown that cadences of 85-90 steps/minute can reduce injury. See the photos left.  Notice the runner on the left with the longer stride length. Her heel strikes the ground first way in front of her body. This stops her momentum dead and reverses that kinetic energy right back towards the knee. She has to expend a lot of energy to overcome and push forward on each step. This repetitive joint pounding will eventually lead to dysfunction.

Courtesy Skye Pellerin 2016

Notice our young runner on the right. Kids are my favorite because they haven’t been taught to run improperly. They run naturally in a sprinters form… correctly. She will spend more time in the air and less on the ground. Her foot strikes in line with the body or even slightly behind as her body lean will be forward at the moment of strike. She strikes the ground with the ball of the foot not her heel. Her energy is pushed out the back with her high heel kick and is returned through her hip hinging motion allowing the knee to return in front high so that her foot can strike under her again. Stop WOGGING, jogging, almost walking. You spend too much time on the hard surfaces in a poor posture. Run like you did as a kid.

Constantly  focus on joint mobilization. Don’t just get out and start running. Perform dynamic range of motion exercises before each run.  See my link to my you tube channel here.

  Mobilize your IT band after runs. The IT band commonly collects and strains the outside of the knee and puts pressure on the lateral tendon. This forces the knee to strike the ground in a dysfunctional pattern. It is one of the leading causes to runners becoming injured. Other problems follow soon after. Foam rolling followed by static stretching after a run will make your knees and hips bullet proof.

 “I also now consider strict vegan diets to be potentially deficient for teenagers who burn a lot of calories each day and whose growing bones and bodies still require a full spectrum of nutrients. This may be true for adults, as well, if they follow a vegan diet strictly for a year or two or more.”  Chet Day
  Lastly, it would take too long to get into why vegan diets are not healthier. I respect people who eat this way for ethical reasons. My closest run partner is vegan and I have many vegan clients. Simply, if your goal is to get stronger and leaner and maintain an optimal body fat percentage, then eating a complete protein source as well as eating enough saturated fat is essential. Vegan protein is not a complete protein source.
Dr. Donaldson includes a list of all major sources of B12 in a vegan diet and observes, "We see then that dietary vegan sources of vitamin B12 are very sparse since plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 in appreciable amounts." He concludes that all vegans must take a B12 supplement.

Or eat eggs. 

Thank-you, that is all.
Mike Hayden

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