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Keep on Running……

So, here we are, September.  People are back from their summer holidays and use this new term to look at ridding the few pounds they gained on the 2 week holiday with the all you can eat buffet in sunny Malaga.

New gym memberships sales are the highest in the year since January and people who would rather try to get in shape and save a few pounds, hit the streets and start running.  

Whether you are used to running or new to it, you are going to be feeling the results in the legs and glutes.  That is because……

……Running requires sustained, repetitive muscle contractions.

The greater the contractions = the greater the force generated = the more muscle fibres are required to shorten = speed, power and distance.

The down side however = short and tight muscles, reduction in range of motion and the feeling of heavy legs and muscle pain.

These short tight muscles can also de-stable and decentre joints leading to hip pain, knee pain or ankle pain with a theory believing this is also a cause of osteoarthritis.

So what muscles are involved?…… The answer…….loads.  Let’s take a look.

The Quadriceps

The Quads….

These four muscles run from the hips and upper femur down to the patella— the kneecap.

As you move your leg forward, you’re primarily using the quadriceps muscles as these four muscles work hand in hand to bend and extend your knee when walking, running, or whenever doing any type of knee bending motion.

In running, they are the muscles called upon in the “drive” phase.

Bending your hips. Your rectus femoris is responsible for flexing the hips to lift your feet off the ground, lifting the knee towards the chest – this is critical for increasing stride length and sprinting speed.  The heads of the quads, connected to the patella, are involved in straightening and stabilising the knee in the stride, acting as shock absorbers, dispersing the shock through the body.  This is crucial considering you put up to between 5 to 12 times your weight through the knee when running[1]

Why do they need looking after with soft tissue therapy?

Many runners are much stronger and tighter through their quads compared to their hamstrings.  This can cause bad leg posture and improper positioning, increasing the risks of overuse injury in the lower back, pelvis, hips, and the knees.

The Hamstrings

The “Hammies”

 As you move forward, the hamstrings kick in.  Again, they are 4 muscles running from hip to knee:  The Biceps Femoris (long head and short head), Semitendinosus, and Semimembranosus.

These muscles flex (bend) the knee as your body moves forward. 

Flexing your knees = power to propel you forward by assisting the extension of thighs by moving the upper leg backward.

More than often, runners have tight and weak hamstrings compared to the quadriceps, their opposing muscle group.  This is even more the case if you actually spend most of your day sitting down in some capacity and can cause hip and knee problems

Why do they need looking after with soft tissue therapy?

Reduction in hamstrings function increases the risks of them tearing and reduction in performance.

The Glutes

The Glutes

The glutes are the three muscles which make up the butt: The Gluteus Maximus, The Gluteus Medius, and The Gluteus Minimus. The Gluteus Maximus, is responsible for creating the shape of the buttocks and is the largest and strongest of three.

Their role in running…..The main source of power.

The glutes function is hip extension and plays a vital role in spinal and pelvic stabilisation, power, stabilising your hips and legs, hip extension, straight and stable posture, and proper knee alignment

Your glutes are crucial in providing stability, power, and strength in the pelvis and hip region in three planes of motion.

Why do they need looking after with soft tissue therapy?

Tight and short glutes can also cause lower back pain, knee pain, and other problems.

Because we sit on them on all day = tightening and weakening of the glutes = bad posture and hindrance in your running ability.

Anything else??

Yes.  These imbalances can lead to other well-known running injuries and problems:

What can you do to help?

Are you a runner? Enjoy running? Want to keep running?  Then get in touch with us and let us help keep your muscles healthy and help you reduce the risk of injury.