First of all, I want to thank everyone that has joined Team Ashley so far for September Miles Madness! Anyone can join at any time during the month, so keep spreading the word and recruiting your friends! We’ve got more awesome prizes lined up, including something from my most favorite running company ever, and more things keep coming in. So trust me when I say that you and every runner you know want to join Team Ashley!
Okay, on to today’s topic: just how important is running form? There is a lot of discussion these days around form and what is proper. If you can master proper running form, you are far less likely to get injured. That is, unless you are me and sit improperly at work.
If you’ll recall, my knee started bothering me sometime around May and it felt like a typical case of runner’s knee. It was nothing serious, but certainly annoying. That pain has come and gone several times over the past few months, but never really got worse. That is, until recently. I’ve also had this incredibly tight hip (opposite side as the knee). So Friday I finally paid a visit to my amazing chiropractor, who always tells me where I am imbalanced and how to stretch and strengthen my weak spots in order to fix what ails me. What I learned is that all the places I am tight indicate poor sitting posture, which when done for hours on end can lead to significant problems.
I went back to work at a “desk job” at the beginning of August, so the timeline matches up. That’s about the same time that my hip got noticeably worse and my knee started acting up again. I am 100% guilty of slouching in my chair, crossing my legs, sitting on one foot tucked under my butt – all of the no-no’s when it comes to sitting posture. So I got some tips from my chiro and I am determined to knock all that bad stuff off! I may even take an exercise ball into the office to use as a chair.
So, how does running posture relate to this story? Over the past few days, my knee has started to really hurt, to the point where I know I shouldn’t be running. I took a few days off and this morning I thought I would go for a short run to assess everything. And I realized that running form means the difference between running safely through in injury and being forced to take time off. By engaging my core and moving my legs with my abs instead of my quads and knees, my knee didn’t hurt. As soon as I get lazy or tired and disengage my abs, my knee engages and starts hurting.
It sounds almost impossible, right? Moving your legs with your abs… I learned this when I took the Chi Running workshop and it was probably the most valuable piece of information I took away. Try it next time you run. Engage your lower abs and move your legs with your core instead of with your leg muscles. It not only helps prevent injuries, but it also prevents muscle fatigue in your legs (or at least keeps it away longer). If your quads are always sore after a run, you are using them too much. Instead, you should be using your abs. This also gives you a stronger core – which helps your form. It’s all circular.
So, what this means to me is that I don’t have to take time completely off from running until my knee feels better. It just means that I have to take it easy and make sure I use proper form. And in the meantime, I have a lot of foam rolling and stretching to do to fix what I’ve done to myself and have to consciously pay attention to my sitting at work. I’m suddenly a little more optimistic and hoping my training isn’t derailed for too long.