|Three variations of wall pushups for calf and soleus|
|Foot on stair knee up for hamstring|
|The traditional bent leg for quads|
|Knee press for hamstring and lower back|
|Knee lifts for lower back and abdominal|
|A variation of knee lifts in which one knee is bent and my head is raised up to touch the knee with my nose, the other leg is on the ground with knee bent|
|Foot press, outer thighs, inner thighs for knee & groin (see below)|
|Flying to relax my back|
|A variation of flying in which my arms trace a horizontal figure-8 to get both sides of my brain working|
|33 sit ups from a Runners' World article (see below)|
10 push ups. These aren't for running. In New England
they were to help me split wood for my stove. Now they are to help me carry
bags of fertilizer to my wife's garden|
Lower back pain is one of the common ailments that afflict runners. After I had been running for several years, I started having lower back pain. Coincidentally, Runners' World published an article on lower back pain about a month after I started having pains. That article suggested doing sit ups to strengthen ones stomach and thus strengthen ones back muscles; you can't have a strong back if you have a flabby stomach. To me, doing sit ups meant doing them the "army" way, but the method suggested by Runners' World was different.
If you do sit ups the "army" way, you'll keep your arms behind your head and place your head and shoulders on the ground each cycle. Your back muscles will have to exert great effort to raise your head and shoulders off the ground, and unless your back is in great condition, that effort can injure your back.
contrast, the Runners' World method for sit ups is to keep your head and
shoulders off the ground and to keep your arms stretched out in front
of you, parallel to the floor, as if you were reaching for your toes.
You then bend your body back and forth. Your knees are bent in both
far you bend depends on your condition, but keep your head and
shoulders off the ground). When I tried this method, I found that
could raise my body up and down with no noticeable strain on my back
muscles. After about a month of doing sit ups this way, my lower back
pain was gone!
I do 30 sit ups before I run, and after years of running, my back is in fine shape. I've also gained a beneficial side effect from doing the sit ups. Most of the time when I finish the sit ups, I feel great and am anxious to hit the roads. Some times, however, I feel tired after completing the sit ups, and I know that my body is tired and that I'd better take a slower and perhaps shorter run. My sit ups are a good indicator of my body condition.
stronger back, do the following lower-back stretches
Lie prone to relax lower back muscles
Keep head flat, pull knees towards chest
Raise head, touch knee to nose if possible
Touch other knee to nose if possible
Knee pain is another common problem with runners. Runners doing hills are especially susceptible to knee problems. Before each run, I do several repetitions of the foot press and inner thighs stretches that are described by Dr. Weisenfeld in The Runners' Repair Manual, and I've never had knee injuries, even after 17 years of running in hilly New England. Here is Dr. Weisenfeld's description of how to do those exercises.
Foot Press. Strengthens quadriceps (thigh) muscles, for treatment/prevention of runner's knee. Strengthens anterior leg muscles, for treatment of shin splints. Can be done lying down or sitting in a chair. Put your right foot on top of your left foot. Your lower foot tries to pull toward your body as your upper foot pushes it away from the body. Hold for ten seconds. Now switch feet--put the left foot on top of the right foot, and push/pull for ten seconds. This equals one set. Do five sets.-- The Runners' Repair Manual, copyright 1980, chapter 4, pp. 38
Foot Press: Do isometrics with your toes
Inner and Outer Thighs. The turned-out position strengthens the outer thigh muscles--for treatment/prevention of runner's knee. The turned-in position strengthens the inner thigh muscles--for treatment/prevention of groin pull. Can be done lying down or sitting in a chair. Stretch both legs out--knees straight, feet flexed (Toes pointed toward knees.) Tighten your thigh muscles. Now, turn your feet out as far as you can and hold ten seconds. Then turn your feet in as far as you can and hold ten seconds. Keep thigh muscles tight throughout exercise.-- The Runners' Repair Manual, copyright 1980, chapter 4, pp. 38 -39
Here is a good link about stretching and another one.
If you would like to receive occasional notices about changes and additions to this site, send an email to Allen Leigh at the address given below and request that you be added to the email list for the Running Injury Free site. I respect your privacy, and your address will be used only for occasional notices and will not be given to anyone. Put Running in the Subject so my spam program won't delete your email.
The information in this site and in my podcasts is for informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical or physical therapy advice. For medical advice, consult a physician. For physical therapy advice, consult a physical therapist.
© Copyright Allen W. Leigh 2003, 2007
All Rights Reserved