A common myth is that running is bad for your joints because it is high impact and leads to joint wear and tear. But if you are experiencing this wear and tear, consider that running is not the culprit.
In truth, your body is simply out of alignment, kind of like a car that needs an alignment. Your car’s tires (or your knees) wear unevenly and eventually need to be replaced or repaired. While that might work for your car, it’s not a great plan for your joints.
These three simple alignment exercises are no quick fix, but they will help get your joints into a better position before you run.
Assisted Down Dog
- Place your hands on a chair or an elevated surface.
- Pike your hips up, straighten your legs, and place your heels on the floor.
- Make sure your feet and back are straight.
- Tighten your thighs, breathe, and hold for one minute.
This exercise will reestablish the connection between your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. If done properly, by rolling the hips forward and placing an arch in your low back, assisted down dog will encourage the pelvis to move over the femur, placing a demand on the hamstring muscles. This helps to prevent hamstring tightness and low-back stiffness and pain.
Assisted Runner’s Stretch
- Kneel on one knee with your hands on a chair or elevated surface. The knee of your back leg should be in contact with the heel of your front foot.
- Lift your hips up while straightening your legs and your back and tightening your thighs.
- Roll towards the inner edges of your feet. At this point your feet should be in a straight line.
- Hold for one minute, switch sides and repeat.
When you run, one side of the pelvis flexes while the other side extends. Assisted runner’s stretch prepares your muscles and joints for this type of movement.
Spread Foot Forward Bend
- Spread your feet, place your hands on the floor in front of you, and make sure your feet are straight. If you cannot touch the floor, place your hands on a block.
- Keep your thighs tight and hips square for the duration of the exercise.
- Stay in the first (center) position for one minute.
- Then, walk your hands to one side in front of your foot and hold for one minute.
- Then, switch to the other side and hold for one minute.
- Return to the middle and hold for one more minute.
- In each position, check your hips to make sure they remain square. If you can, do this against a wall with your heels and hips touching the wall for the duration of the exercise.
- Bend your knees and slowly roll up to standing when you are done.
Spread foot forward bend puts your hips into position and stretches the lats, inner thighs, and hamstrings.
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