Hello. Join Utahrunning.com, it’s FREE | Sign in | Sign in

Your Run Starts Here!

Why is Overstriding Going to Make Me More Injury Prone?

By: Preston Johnson

Whenever you find yourself with a group of runners it isn’t uncommon to hear the topic of heel striking (initial contact with the ground while running is with the heel of the foot) and forefoot striking (initial contact with the ground while running is with the forefoot) brought up. While neither of these styles are necessarily bad, studies have shown that those that over-stride and heel strike excessively have a much higher rate of developing a moderate or severe injury and it is shown to be less efficient and effective when trying to run fast. We want to dive into those concepts a little bit and talk about why it has those effects on your running and talk about how you can fix it.

To explain the effects of overstriding I am going to use some graphs generated from a ground reaction force plate (measures the amount of force on the plate over a period of time). Thanks to Newton’s 3rd Law we know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So for the amount of force that a runner puts on the plate, as he runs over it, the same amount of force is exerted back on his leg. These forces exerted by the ground are common causes of many running injuries. Let’s compare the reaction forces between an overstriding, excessive-heel striker and a forefoot striker.

 

The major difference shown in the images above is fairly evident. We are focusing on the extra spike in the force of the heel strike graph. This extra spike of force exerted through your leg is not absorbed very well when overstriding. When you are overstriding, your heel strikes the ground out in front of you with your leg a lot straighter than it would be if you were landing just in front of your center of gravity with your ankle bone directly underneath your knee (the optimal place to land). The straighter leg will decrease the amount of force that is absorbed through your muscles and joints and instead the force is being absorbed through your bone, which is far less elastic than your muscles and ligaments in your joints. This increases your susceptibility to stress fractures and stress reactions. Another important factor is the rate at which the force increases. Notice that in the heel strike graph the rate at which the force increases is very sudden as opposed to the forefoot strike graph which has a more gradual increase. This sudden increase creates a much higher impulse force than a gradual increase does. This impulse force in heel strikers has been seen up to 7x the force of someone who lands just in front of their center of gravity.

We mentioned previously that overstriding also effects your overall speed. In the image on the left notice the angle at which your foot hits the ground when overstriding. Thinking again about Newton’s 3rd law (every action has an equal and opposite reaction) imagine the force
from hitting the ground with your heel, when you’re overstriding, going in the opposite direction. This force is represented by the red arrow. Notice that the red arrow is pointing backwards. Essentially this force is acting as a break and slowing you down with every stride you take. Upon toe off you are required to exert more force to maintain the same pace due to the breaking effect of the opposing force.

So, this information is interesting to learn about, but it isn’t beneficial to you unless you learn how to fix the issues it presents. Focusing on landing on your forefoot or landing in a certain spot when your running is not the right way to go about fixing this, it can become very monotonous and will easily be forgotten as you continue running. Your body naturally runs in the most efficient way it can, but it is not necessarily the most efficient way for a human to run. If you find yourself overstriding and want to change it, focus on Increasing your running cadence, your ankle bone being directly beneath your knee when you land, landing just in front of your center of gravity, and building towards a cadence of 180 steps a minute. Increasing the strength of your Hamstrings and Gluteus muscles is important when increasing your cadence and shortening your stride. Doing squats and hamstring curls every other day is an effective way to improve that strength. As you continue to build strength spend some time on your run listening to a metronome (boring, I know, but its beneficial) set to a cadence that is 5% faster than your current cadence ((Current Cadence x .05) + Current Cadence). Focus on matching each step to the beat of the metronome. As this begins to feel natural over several runs, continue to progress the metronome by 5%.

For additional information on running form and overstriding, check out the video below on the form of 4-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah.

Video Credit: James Dunne
Google Buzz

Is Static Stretching Before Your Run Hurting Your Workout Performance?

By: Preston Johnson

A widely debated topic in the running world is whether or not stretching before your run is hurting your performance? We have been taught since elementary school that we should stretch as part of your warm up, but a study in Brazil, among others, may say otherwise.

The study was focusing on the effects of static stretching on your muscles output of power and strength. Along with previous studies pointing to a dampening effect on your strength and power, there has also been more conflicting studies pointing to the fact that it may decrease your running economy.

First, we want to clarify that this is not saying that stretching doesn’t have a place in the running world, because it surely does. Stretching is still highly encouraged post-run to help any sore or tight muscles to aid in the recovery process. We are solely going to focus on the debate of whether or not it is essential to stretch before a run.

This study took eleven recreational runners and put them through several tests, including a 3-km time trial. This test was done twice once without stretching and a second time with static stretching prior to taking the test. The stretching consisted of seven lower-body stretches performed three times each for thirty seconds.

Speed was measured every one-hundred meters in both the stretching and non-stretching trials as well as the perceived exertion every four-hundred meters. The graphs below show the results of the trials.  Keep in mind that RPE on the graph on the right stands for “Rate of Perceived Exertion”.

The findings showed that there was a significant difference in perceived exertion and the actual pace being run when comparing the control time trial and the static stretching time trial. The pace was significantly higher with a lower perceived exertion level for the group that didn’t do any static stretching prior to the time trial. However, there was only a measured significant difference in the first 100 meters. The running economy of each runner was not effected by static stretching, but the stride duration was increased. Ultimately, the finishing time between the two groups was unchanged.

What do you think? Do you stretch before your workouts?
Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook Page.

To read the full study click here.

Google Buzz

IT Band Friction Syndrome – When Knee Pain Comes From the Hip

 

What is the IT Band?

The iliotibial band (IT band) is a very thick, fibrous band of tissue that runs from the outside of your hip down the outside of your leg and connects on the outside of your knee.  Your glutes, hip abductor and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscles all connect into this band.

 

leg image

What is IT Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS)?

A sudden increase in mileage (over a 5% increase in one week) or excessive downhill running can cause the IT band to rub and create friction on the outside of the knee creating pain.  Since the IT band has fibers that also connects into the outside portion of the kneecap this can also be a source of pain at the front of the knee.

What Causes ITBFS?

Remember Newton’s 3rd Law of motion that “every action has an equal & opposite reaction?”  During running, every time our foot hits the ground with a certain amount of force the same amount of force is also exerted from the ground back up through our foot and into our leg.  If the musculature involved (usually the muscles on the outside of the hip) cannot contend with these increased impact and force requirements, then the body can start to break down and often times this occurs at the knee.  A rapid increase in running distance, downhill running, or running on slanted or graded surfaces (the same side of the road every run) forces the legs to undergo a significant increase in impact and force.

How Do I Fix It?

Decreasing your mileage temporarily until your symptoms subside then increasing more gradually sometimes can help initially.  Increasing your cadence (steps per minute) can help because it decreases the time your foot is on the ground, limiting the returning force the ground can exert back.  There is research data to indicate runners with ITBFS may have weaker hip muscle strength on the affected side.  So strengthening those muscles on the outside of your hip is KEY and is very simple with performing either, or both of the following exercises (to be performed every other day at 3 sets of 10 or 15 reps):

exercises

The following stretches after your run will also be helpful to loosen those tissues & muscles on the outside of your hip holding each stretch for 30-45 seconds, 3 times daily:

stretches

HAPPY RUNNING!

bret-maiers-sm

BRET MAIERS, PT, DPT, OCS

Bret Maiers received his Doctorate degree in physical therapy from Eastern Washington University in 2010.  He is a board certified orthopaedic clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association and is currently the clinic director for Mountain Land Physical Therapy at their Stansbury Park location. In his spare time Bret enjoys running and both watching and playing sports.

Google Buzz

What to eat before a race?

One of my favorite episodes of the TV show “The Office” is when Michael Scott decides to put on a 5k.  A charity 5k to raise money to find a cure for rabies, which already has a cure.  Just before the race begins Michael “carbo-loads” on a huge serving of fettuccini alfredo.  As you can imagine, he feels the weight of the alfredo like a rock in his stomach as soon as he starts running.  I’m sure all of us at one time or another can relate to that feeling and as a result we do everything we possibly can to avoid it!  We stress about what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it.  Unfortunately there’s not one specific solution that works for everyone every time.  The key is finding what works for you.  The foods that work for you before hard workouts or long runs will be what works for you before a race, so keep the same routine.  That doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing before every race, you can have options and still feel confident that you’ll be fine for the race.

Pasta is probably one of the most popular choices for people before a race, and it is a good choice, but there are plenty of other foods that you can be safe eating before a race as well.  Plus, some pasta dishes leave you feeling heavy and that’s the last feeling you want to have going into a race.  If I have pasta I choose some kind of pesto with vegetables instead of alfredo or meat sauce.  Some other options could be grilled chicken, salmon, halibut, rice (I prefer brown rice but do what works for you, especially if you’re not used to eating brown rice), steamed vegetables (easy on the butter if you use any at all), baked potato with cottage cheese and salsa, fajitas (easy on the sour cream, cheese, etc.), etc.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding what to eat before a race:

-Avoid fatty foods.

-Avoid food that takes a long time to digest.

-Eat foods that you’ve eaten before harder runs or workouts.

-Don’t try new foods, now is not the time to experiment.

-Drink plenty of water, ALWAYS a good idea whether you’re a runner or not!

-Eat healthy foods.  Again, always a good idea whether you’re a runner or not.

The best thing you can do for yourself as a runner and as a person in general is to create healthy habits so that when the hard part of the race comes your body has the fuel it needs to perform and do what you want it to do.

As for when to eat . . . this is kind of a personal preference, and it takes some trial and error.  So try different things before workouts to find what works for you.  Personally, I like to eat my last “meal” about 2.5 to 3 hours before my race.  I’ll continue to hydrate leading up to the race and possibly have a small snack (mostly comprised of carbohydrates) an hour or so before the race.  If I’m racing in the morning (which is when most road races are) I usually wake up a few hours early to get some food in my body and depending on what time the race is I may even go back to sleep for a while before I get up to start getting ready for the race.  When I race in the morning I’m definitely more picky about what I eat for breakfast because my stomach tends to be more sensitive in the morning.  Some ideas are oatmeal, toast, a little bit of fruit, yogurt, etc.  Sometimes if it’s a shorter race I’ll just have some kind of a powerbar and a banana or something similar.  Again, the key is to find what works for you.  Some people can eat an hour before they race, some people have to eat four hours before.  Try a few ways and then once you’ve found what works, make it a routine so your body knows what to do and what to expect on race day.

The nice thing about having a set routine is that it’s one less thing you have to worry about on race day.  You’re naturally going to be nervous and if you have a set routine you can have confidence in the fact that your body will be ready to perform.  You just have to go out and do it!  Which brings out another point, don’t stress if things don’t go perfectly leading up to a race.  They rarely do!  Have confidence in the things you can control, your training, the foods you eat, the amount of sleep you get, etc.  And know that you’re ready, you’ve prepared yourself and now you get to go show off all the hard work you put in!  Enjoy the race and as Coach Pilkington always says . . . “Look forward to the hard part of the race.”  That’s what we train for, to prepare ourselves for the hard part of the race so that when it comes, as it inevitably will, you’re ready and you can still run fast when it hurts.

by Lindsey Anderson – Olympian | Professional Athlete

Google Buzz

STOP THE OFF-SEASON EATING INSANITY

Doesn’t it make sense that if you change your training, then you should change your eating? The normal winter habit of “taking a break from training” by dropping volume, reducing intensity AND eating the same or MORE carbohydrate is killing your race season performance. STOP THE INSANITY! The pursuit of optimal health and human performance is a year round endeavor!

Never fear, for a typical age group endurance athlete training less than 10 hours a week in the warmer months, this isn’t as drastic as it sounds. The key is realizing that your carbohydrate needs drop when your workout volume drops. Also, as long as you’re doing strength work twice a week and some speed in the winter (you are doing both of these right?) then your protein and fats stay the same or even increase a bit.  Another way to understand this idea is that you have to keep your training and nutritional focus on anabolic, muscle and health building, overdrive. That means training for strength, speed and power and eating meals that keep your insulin stable and kick your hormone system into that anabolic state of rebuilding lost muscle tissue, burning fat and boosting your immune system.

Here are some simple nutritional guidelines to help you achieve this optimal off-season flux:

Guidelines

  • Protein: Consume high quality non-denatured (not destroyed) lean protein 5-6 times a day.  Eat enough to equal 1 gram protein/lb of lean mass a day. Protein should be the first macronutrient you are concerned with.  This quantity is for those of you actually lifting and/or doing speed. Eat less if you are not doing these activities.
  • Fat: Eat fat to lose fat, boost anabolic hormones and stabilize insulin. Eat omega 3 based fats with most meals. Put flax seed or mixed plant oil into at least 1 or 2 protein shakes a day. 1 TBS /50 lbs of bodyweight/day is the maintenance dose.  Double if you have joint or inflammation problems
  • Carbs: refuel muscle tissue properly right after workout so you don’t starve later! Recovery drink or shake within 30 minutes of workout. Within the next 60-90 minutes eat a solid meal with an extra serving or two of dense carbs like fruit, yams, squash, red potatoes.  All other meals only require one serving of carbohydrate, if any! Daily intake of at least 90% produce based carbs with no more than 10% whole grain!  Eat a big dark green salad everyday.
  • Fluids and fiber: drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day. That does not include during and post workout fluid. Take a fiber supplement once or twice a day with meals (although not before a run!)
  • Meals: Focus on protein and produce and some fats like olive oil, nuts, sharp cheese to feel fully satisfied. Eat until you are full. Eat extra carbs only after workouts.

 

 

Benefits

  • Each protein dose, when accompanied by a small amount of low glycemic carbs, releases growth hormone and glucagon (the opposite of insulin). This sets up the body to burn fat throughout the day.
  • Metabolic efficiency! The focus on protein, fats and produce teach the body to live off its own carbs stores and finally burn fat more easily because it has to.  This transfers over to being able to burn fat longer and in greater quantities in training during longer and slower workouts when you add them in later. SWEET!
  • Your insulin becomes more stable, sensitive and efficient so your body doesn’t need as much of it as it used to in order to process carbs.
  • Feel more satiated, recover better from workouts, improve sense of health and wellbeing dramatically, don’t get sick much, strongly curbs carb cravings and you sleep better.

 

The goal

The smartest athletes will use the off-season as a time to rebuild their bodies. After 4-8 weeks of resting, then eating and training in an anabolic pattern will get the body lean, mean and ready for a full season of specific endurance work. Cheers to a wise winter!

 

by Debbie Perry

Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor

USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Colgan Power Program Strength Trainer

Local Elite Runner/Triathlete

Google Buzz

Pre-Exercise Ventilation

I thought a short explanation of a typical ventilatory response to the onset of exercise might help answer this question. Carbon dioxide in our blood increases at the onset of exercise at a greater rate than it does later during our exercise bout (after we’ve warmed up for a while). Respiration is what gets rid of this carbon dioxide, and thus our breathing rate also increases more than normal at the beginning of exercise. As exercise progresses, the chemical conditions of our blood (i.e. increased heat & metabolism) allow more oxygen to distribute carbon dioxide out of the blood, creating less demand for our breathing rate to do that.

Read More….

Google Buzz

Get Instant Online Access to the Latest Issue of Run Utah Magazine!!!
Plus Receive Weekly
Email Updates
of all
the Upcoming Running
Races in Utah.
Enter your Name and Email
below to receive your
FREE subscription:

We respect your privacy.
We will never share, sell or rent your details.

Privacy Verified