Stretches & Exercises to Help Prevent Injuries From Walking & Running

Yesterday we posted about some of the most common injuries you can experience from running and walking. Today, we wanted to post some stretches and exercises to help prevent those injuries.

Stretches:

All of these Stretches can be performed before and after your workout, and wherever you are running/walking. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2x each.

Bottle Roll (for relief of Plantar Fasciitis):

Use a frozen water bottle (plastic, no glass).  In sitting or standing roll the bottom of your foot with moderate pressure. Use as much pressure as you can tolerate without discomfort.

Standing Calf/Achilles Stretch:

Start by standing in front of a wall or other sturdy object. Step forward with one foot and maintain your toes on both feet to be pointed straight forward. Keep the leg behind you with a straight knee during the stretch.

Lean forward towards the wall and support yourself with your arms as you allow your front knee to bend until a gentle stretch is felt along the back of your leg that is most behind you.

Move closer or further away from the wall to control the stretch of the back leg. Also you can adjust the bend of the front knee to control the stretch as well.

Repeat with back knee  bent to get an Achilles stretch (Soleus Stretch).

Sitting Hamstring Stretch:

While sitting with your leg stretched out, reach forward with your hands towards touching your toes.

Standing IT band stretch:

In a standing position, cross the affected leg behind your unaffected leg.

Next, with your arm over head, lean to the side towards the unaffected leg.

Standing Quad stretch:

While in a standing position, bend your knee back behind and hold your ankle/foot.

Next, gently pull your knee into a more bent position until a stretch is felt on the front of the thigh.

Exercises:

These exercises consist of hip and leg strengthening exercises to help prevent injury with running or walking. Do each exercise 3 x 10 reps for each side

Clams:

Lie on your side, knees bent. With feet planted together, open and close your knees.

Lateral Leg Raises:

Lie on your side, propped up on one elbow. With your bottom leg bent, slowly raise your straight top leg, being careful not to let your toes point up as you raise the leg. Lower slowly back to your start position.

Fire Hydrants:

In all fours position, raise your bent leg up to the side, and back again. This exercise got it’s name because it mimics a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. 🙂

Hip Extension:

In all fours position raise your leg up behind you as shown. Keep your knee bent at 90 degrees the entire time.

Wall Sit Squats:

Slowly lower to the wall sit/squat position of knees at 90 degrees to the floor, not letting your knees go over your toes, then back to standing.

Heel Raises:

While standing, raise up on your toes as you lift your heels off the ground. This can also be done on a step where your toes are on the edge of the step and you raise up as high as you can then slowly lower back down letting the heel hang just below the step.

 

Photo Credit: www.hep2go.com 

Common Walking & Running Injuries

With the weather finally getting warmer, the will to get outside to start exercising is getting stronger. With that being said, it is important to remember how to prevent possible injuries that are associated with running or walking.
Some of the most common injuries are Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, Shin splints, Runner’s knee, IT Band syndrome, and Hamstring strains.

Plantar Fasciitis

Common Causes:
• Inflammation of tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to toes, causing pain along the arch or heel
• Very high or very low arches
• The way your foot lands when you run, too far in or too far out
• Standing for a long time period
• Worn out shoes

Prevention Tips:
• Stretch & massage your arches. A golf ball works well as a massage ball, or foot rollers can help as well. A frozen bottle of water works perfectly as a foot roller and decreases the inflammation at the same time.
• Wear properly fitted running shoes

Achilles Tendonitis

Common Causes:
• Irritation or tightness in the Achilles tendon that connects your calf and heel
• A sudden increase in hill training or speed work
• Weak calf muscles
• Worn out shoes

Prevention Tips:
• Strengthen your calf muscles
• Stretch your calves gently
• Increase flexibility in your ankle
• Avoid wearing high heels or flat shoes like flip flops for a long time

Shin splints

Common Causes:
• Inflammation of the muscles and tendons around the front part of the lower leg
• Running on tired legs so the tendons are forced to take the strain
• Increasing mileage, too much too soon
• Running too long or too much on hard surfaces when your body isn’t accustomed to it
• Brand new shoes or worn out shoes

Prevention Tips:
• Gradually increase your mileage
• Wear shoes that are fit for your feet and that aren’t worn out
• Improve the strength of your calves and muscles of your outer hip (hip abductor exercises)
• Stretch the front muscles of your lower leg and your calf muscles

Runner’s knee/ Knee pain

An aching pain behind or just above the kneecap. It also might feel tender to the touch, almost like a bruise. The cause of the pain is the patella (kneecap) rubbing against the head of the femur.

Common Causes:
• Inflammation and irritation of the cartilage under the kneecap
• Weak quadriceps muscles
• Tight hamstrings and IT band
• Running or walking on hills or stairs that you haven’t worked up to
• Long runs or walks that your body isn’t prepared for
• Wearing shoes that are worn out

Prevention Tips:
• Strengthen your leg muscles, in particular with quad strengthening exercises and hip strengthening exercises
• When you’re running, land with your knees slightly bent to take the pressure off of the joints
• Stretch your hamstrings, IT Band, and quads

IT Band Syndrome

Common Causes:
• Irritation and inflammation of the iliotibial band that runs along the outer portion of your upper leg from the hip to the knee. The pain is typically felt on the outside of the knee
• Too much downhill running or walking that your body isn’t prepared for
• Increased mileage too much too soon
• Wearing shoes that are worn out

Prevention Tips:
• Stretches that focus on hip flexors and butt muscles
• Rolling on your IT band with a foam roller
• If you’re including speed work in your training plan, gradually incorporate it in small amounts
• Strengthen outer leg muscles

Hamstring Strain

Common causes:
• Weak hamstring muscles
• Your quadricep muscles and hamstring muscles aren’t balanced with each other – quads are significantly and disproportionately stronger than your hamstrings
• Hamstrings that are too tight

Prevention Tips:
• Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes
• Improve the flexibility of your hamstrings

 

Sources:

How to prevent common running injuries

Run It – A Workout for Runner’s Knee (plus 5 more workouts for running injuries!)