Preparing for Your Next 5K: Tips From a PT

Fall is upon us and with holiday runs right around the corner, Therapydia physical therapist Jodie McGinlay, DPT, weighs in with her top five things to keep in mind as you prepare for this year’s Turkey Trot, Holiday Hustle, Fun Run or any of the numerous other festively-themed 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons:

You did it! You made the important first step of signing up for that 5K/10K or maybe even half marathon. Great job! Prior to race day, there are a few things to consider to make the most out of your run, no matter if this is your first race or your tenth. One of the most important things to keep in mind to ensure your success is to go slow and listen to your body. No matter how many races you’ve run, there are many goals to set and accomplish during your pre-race, training period. Remember that injury prevention and maintenance at any phase of the training process is attainable so the fact that you’re reading this prior to your run is great! Here you will find the top five considerations to help you avoid injury and prepare your body to cruise across the finish line on race day.

Running Shoes Physical Therapy 5k Runners Exercise

1. Running Shoes

Take a look at your shoes. Are they more than two years old? Do they squeeze your toes? Do your feet ever feel numb during or after you wear them? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to check in with your local physical therapist or running shoe store. Unfortunately, shoes are not bulletproof and they need replacing every so often, especially if they are uncomfortable. Your physical therapist can assess your foot mechanics for optimal comfort and recommend a specific brand or running shoe store to visit.

Runner Exercises 5k Physical Therapy Injury Prevention

2. The Course

Consider the surface in which you’ll be running on race day. Is the upcoming race hilly? Is it flat? If the race is outside, try to hit the pavement and see how your body handles it. Various surfaces can actually distribute forces through your feet in different ways so you should try to change up the surfaces that you’re training on to prepare (because not all are created equal). Tracks, treadmills, concrete surfaces and trails can all put stresses on the body in their own way. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should hop out on the trails if your 5K is on pavement, but it may be wise to switch up your training occasionally and skip a treadmill day in favor of some fresh air.

Runner Exercises Injury Prevention 5k Physical Therapy

3. Set Your Goals

Are you shooting to complete a personal record or increase your speed for your upcoming race? Try to include some form of cross training to give your program variability. Current physical therapy research suggests 2-3 days a week of resistance training: weights, high intensity interval training, and even plyometrics can increase your run speed and lung capacity for endurance.

If you haven’t been particularly active lately and you’re unsure about where to start, these three exercises are low impact and address specific musculature responsible for ensuring optimal gluteal activation while walking and running. Remember if any exercises create discomfort, please discontinue performing and consult a physical therapist for a formal musculoskeletal assessment.

Exercise for Runners Clamshell Physical Therapy Portland

Exercise 1: Sidelying Clamshell

Lie on your side with the band above your knees. With the knees bent and stacked on each other, lift the top knee up and away—into the resistance band. Try to maintain the hips and shoulders from rocking back or forward. Hold for 5-10 seconds and perform 5 reps for 2-3 sets. You should be feeling this on the outer glut. If you feel it more on the side of your hip (think about where a seam in your pant would start), roll your top hip forward. Work your holds up to 20 seconds.

Running Man Exercise for Runners Physical Therapy Portland

Exercise 2: Running Man

Stand and balance on one leg. Lean your body forward (keeping your upper body/core in plank position) while you straighten your back leg behind you. Try to hover back leg or tap toe on the ground for balance. Bring the same arm forward into ready position (see picture). March leg up to 90 degrees as you extend your arm back to end position. Perform 2-3 rounds of 5 reps. Work your reps up if you are able to maintain your balance in a smooth and controlled manner.

Runner Exercise Lateral Band Walks Physical Therapy Portland

Exercise 3: Lateral Band Walks

Place elastic band around legs. From easiest to hardest: band above knees, band below knees, band at ankles, band at feet. Lightly bend your knees while you take a step to the side keeping your feet spread about hip distance apart. Keep resistance on band and bring trailing leg towards the other. Try to keep hip distance between feet in order to get the best burn. Remember this is four your hips—you should feel it on the outside glut but will feel quads as well. Try 10 steps down and back. Work up to 20 steps in coming weeks.

Physical therapy 5k preparation injury prevention hydration

4. Fuel the Tank

Hydration + diet + adequate sleep can give your body energy and sustainability through your training period and beyond. Make sure to drink water throughout the day and eat plenty of nutrient rich and high carb energy boosters, including bananas, oats, whole-grain foods, peanut butter, broccoli, Greek yogurts and berries. The consistency with your training program to ensure your body is equipped to run the race from a cardiovascular standpoint can be accelerated by how you’re fueling the tank before and after.

Runner Injury Prevention 5k 10k marathon physical therapy

5. Recovery, REcovery, RECOVERY

As you prepare and train for the upcoming race, allow your mind and body some time to cool down. A long week full of runs, resistance training, socializing, work, etc. can take its toll. This could mean taking a hot bath and letting your body relax while you work on incorporating some new recipes and getting a little extra sleep. Cooldowns after a run could mean walking the last ½ mile home instead of the sprint you planned on or simply taking the time to prop your feet up and elevate after moving around all day. However you choose to take it easy after the week, this rest is not only beneficial for your body but for your mental drive to get back out on that next run the following week. Self motivation can sometimes be challenging so I like to incorporate training with a friend or local run club. Consider looking into run clubs or meetups in your area that could make running more enjoyable.

If you feel you need further assistance with training including ramping mileage and/or a customized running program, there are additional resources and education we can provide to ensure optimal performance during your training. Therapydia’s Run Assessment locates any weaknessess or mechnical challenges involved in your running. With a thorough exam of your strength, flexibility, movement patterns and running form, your run analysis will help to ensure your running is more efficient, more enjoyable and most importantly, injury and pain-free. You’ll review the findings with your physical therapist and leave with a custom assessment and exercise training plan. Click here to schedule your Run Assessment today.

Happy running!

Dynamic Warmup for Runners

Warmup for Runners Injury Prevention Run Warmup Stretch

If you’re a runner, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some sort of discomfort, ache or pain along the way. In fact, it’s been reported that as many as 90% of runners miss training time each year due to injuries. Fortunately, running pains are not necessarily an inevitability.

A good warmup, prior to exercising, loosens up your body and gets the blood flowing, gradually raising your heart rate to make it easier to get into a good rhythm. Dynamic stretching before a run has shown to help with poor posture, faulty running mechanics and injury prevention. It can also work wonders in terms of improving your range of motion. If you experience aches and pains during or after your run, try this warmup to help and combat the likelihood of injury and give yourself a little peace of mind so you can run longer and stronger!

Estimated Time: 10 Minutes

Sunrise Stretch

Warmup for runners physical therapy dynamic warmup run injury

Where You’ll Feel It: Pecs and Mid Back
Lie on your side, bend both knees up toward your chest and place your bottom hand on top of your knees. Place your top arm out in front, reach up toward the ceiling and continue the rotation as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Allow your head and chest to follow. Return to the starting position and perform 10 times each side.

Leg Swing

Leg Swing Exercise Dynamic Warmup Runners Run Injury

Where You’ll Feel It: Hamstrings and Hip Flexors
Swing your leg forward as high as you can and as far back as you can with controlled speed while keeping your knee straight and trunk upright. Perform 10 times on each leg.

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch Warmup for Runners Exercise Stretch Dynamic Warmup Injury Prevention

Where You’ll Feel It: Thigh and Hip Flexor
Stand on one leg, grab your opposite ankle and pull your foot towards your butt. Keep your standing leg straight and the heel on the floor. Reach overhead with your other arm. Make sure that your bent knee is directly under your hip. (Optional – you can lift your heel and come up onto your toes). Don’t let your back arch. Hold for 3 seconds. Perform 10 times on each side.

Donkey Kick

Donkey Kick Dynamic Warmup for Runners Exercise Physical Therapy

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes, Not Your Back!
Place a mini band around your knees. Start on your hands and knees. Align your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine. Keep your core engaged and lift the right knee back like a kick. Think about kicking your heel towards the ceiling but avoid arching your back or twisting your hips. Perform 10 times on each side.

Runner’s Side Plank

Side Plank Dynamic Warmup for Runners Run Injury Prevention Stretch Exercise

Where You’ll Feel It: Core and Glutes
Lie on your side with your body and your legs in a straight line (like you are in a toaster slot). Bend the bottom of your knee 90 degrees and keep the top knee straight. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and engage your abs. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, keeping your elbow stacked underneath your shoulders. While holding the plank position, bend your knee toward your chest and straight out to starting position (mimic running). Perform 10 times on each side.

Runner’s March

Runner's Side Plank Dynamic Warmup for Runners Physical Therapy Exercise Stretch Injury Prevention

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes
Place a mini band around your ankles. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine to maintain neutral lumbar spine. March your knee up to hip level, pause for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Focus on slow, controlled movement. Drive the standing leg straight by squeezing your gluteal muscles. Perform 10 times on each side.

Side Steps

Side Steps Dynamic Warmup for Runners Runner Injury Prevention Physical Therapy Exercise Stretch

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes / Outer Hips
Stand in a semi-squat position with your feet hip width apart and a mini band around your ankles. While always keeping tension in the band, take small steps to the left (Your stance should not be wider than your shoulders at any point). Focus on pushing off the trailing leg vs. reaching with the lead leg. Keep your knees pushed apart and your toes pointed straight forward. Repeat while moving to the right. Perform 10 steps to each side.

If you have any questions or any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist.

9 Yoga Poses For Runners

With spring finally trying to break through the Portland grey skies, a lot of people are moving their exercise routines outdoors. From biking to jogging to dog walking, people are excited to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. With all this moving and shaking we need to also be aware of what a long cold winter could do to our joints. Sitting by a cozy fire or curling up on the couch with a good book can cause tightness in our joints, but we might not notice these restrictions until we go for our first spring run. Yoga is an amazing way to get stability and flexibility around all of our joints, and especially for our weight bearing joints such as hips, knees, and ankles. Below are a few quick yoga poses that are very beneficial for stretching hip flexors, quadriceps, hip rotators, and the low back.

Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

Horizon lunge with quad stretch

Horizon lunge with quad stretch (with props)

Revolved Figure 4 Stretch

Supine Twist

supine twist

Supta Baddha Konasana (Restorative pose)

supta bhadda konasana

3 Poses For Glutes and Hip Stability

Running in is a great way to get outside, explore your surroundings, and get a good cardiovascular workout! Yoga is the perfect compliment to running in that it stretches muscle groups that can get tight or strained. Runners are prone to overuse injuries due to tight muscles, particularly the hip flexors. Weakness in certain muscle groups, such as the glutes and abdominals, can also contribute to run-related injuries. To improve glute strength and hip stability give these poses a try:

• Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
• 1/2 moon – Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna)
• Tree pose – Vrkasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna)

The balance of strength and flexibility is one we should always strive for. For more information regarding running or yoga benefits please contact Therapydia Lake Oswego!