Saturday, October 30, 2010

Are Running Injuries a Rite of Passage?

Are you a seasoned running veteran or new runner prone to injury? Have you recently read Born to Run and inspired to run barefoot, buy Vibrams or finally take on that ultra out west? Do you want to keep running in your 70's or 80's?

If so, read on.

We are born to run, but at a certain point, running injuries like stress fractures, IT band, knee, hip pain, and plantar fasciitis hamper our progress as well as increase medical expenditures and stress. I think we all know how it feels when you want to run but are sidelined due to to injury!

As a soccer player and runner, I was always injured at some time or another. By age 30, I experienced “the boot”, pain in my metatarsals, IT band pain, super tight hamstrings and a lovely ganglion cyst on my right ankle. Despite a number of visits to doctors, x-rays, orthotics, massage and pain medication, the injuries eventually came back - just in a different form. I assumed it was a rite of passage as part of "being a runner" but I was oh so wrong.

Five years ago I learned about Chi Running. My running life (and therefore my life) drastically changed. I learned how to run more efficiently and I have not been injured since! Clearly, this is no fad!

Danny Dreyer, ultra marathoner and Founder of ChiRunning, applied physics, body mechanics and movement principles from T’ai Chi (an ancient Chinese martial art) to create this unique running program. The focuses of ChiRunning are energy efficiency and injury prevention, two things a runner should be focused on with each step they take. Injury prevention and energy efficiency are achieved through body alignment and relaxation.

Here is the scoop. If you want to prevent injury, you must focus on your form. Good posture and proper body alignment are the foundation of good running form.

Stand up right now and look down at your feet. Are they splayed? Hmm. That might explain some knee and hip issues.

When running are you hunched over or super upright? Do you have a side-to-side (lateral) sway with your hips or arms? Do you have knee pain when you run? Do you ruminate about your job, the kids, competitors, and your to-do list?

Now take a look at your running shoes. Are the heels built up? Are they worn on certain sides? Are your shoes heavy, tight and laces constricting? If you are wearing Vibrams do your calves or toes hurt?

It might be time to make a change. Yep, pull back on the endorphin rush for a moment or two and examine Chi Running. Running does not have to hurt! I would not be running now in my 40th year if I had stayed on the running injuries are okay path.

As a "Chi Runner" I have avoided injury, increased my cadence and have significantly reduced stress (ask my friends and family!). I also wear very light minimal shoes (that actually wear out less frequently) and have have more fun running then ever.

Being mindful of your form at any age and stage is a small price to pay if it will enable you to run for years ahead, injury-free. So, fellow runners, please consider using ChiRunning as a tool. Your body will thank you.

Enjoy your running and may the Chi be with you!

Written by: Amy R. Peacock

CRC Member, Certified Chi Running & Chi Walking Instructor, Certified Fitness Trainer


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