Running into the Off-Season

by | Nov 20, 2022 | News Articles

The marathon race calendar for 2022 is quickly coming to an end, with a lot of runners done til the new year and the Chilly Half Marathon in March. What do you do during the off-season? Do you continue to run, take running off completely, cross train? 

Typically most runners will take 1-2 weeks rest after their last competition. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean laying on the couch and binge watching your favourite show on Netflix. It usually involves low intensity running and recreational activities, in addition to catching up on your latest show. The off-season is also a great time to work on strength training and cross training, which will help with injury prevention and improvements in running performance.

What should you be doing in the off-season?

Rehabilitating Your Injuries

Chiropractic Services for Athletes

The number one goal of the off-season should be to recover. Training for endurance events can be time consuming, and oftentimes injuries get ignored. Lingering injuries can wreak havoc on your running form and potentially make the injury worse, or cause a new injury. If you’ve been waiting for that nagging pain to go away and it still hasn’t, then maybe it’s time to get in to see a therapist and have it treated. 

Strength Training for Injury Prevention

Sheddon Physio Clinic at-SST Oakville pic

Research shows that roughly 90% of runners will suffer from a running related injury, with one of the top risk factors being muscle imbalances. Strength training programs have been shown to reduce both acute and overuse injuries by almost 50%.  If we are going to build an exercise program to prevent injuries, then we first need to understand what the most common injuries are and why they occur. The most common injuries in runners include:

  1. Patellofemoral pain syndrome;
  2. ITB syndrome;
  3. Patellar tendinopathy;
  4. Achilles tendinopathy.

Most injuries occur because of a combination of a training load error and a biomechanical/ muscle weakness. Training errors include:

  • Training Style – specifically speed and interval training and increasing your intensity too quickly;
  • Duration of training – increasing your volume too quickly;
  • Overtraining – most running injuries are a result of the repetitive nature of running and not a single traumatic event.

The key weak muscles that have been shown to cause the most problems with runners include:

  • Hip Flexors;
  • Calves;
  • Gluteus maximus;
  • Hamstrings;
  • Gluteus medius.

Weakness in one or more of these muscles can cause a change in your running form which over time can lead to an injury. For example: the gluteus medius is a key muscle that helps absorb ground reaction forces,  keeps the pelvis level,  and keeps the knee in optimal alignment. If your gluteus medius is weak, while you run your knee will have the tendency to collapse inwards (the hip internally rotates and moves inwards). This leads to improper tracking of the patella, which over time can lead to patellafemoral pain syndrome. This increase in hip internal rotation, in turn, can lead to more pronation at the foot, which can contribute to achilles problems. As if this weak muscle hasn’t caused enough damage, a weak gluteus medius can also increase tension on the ITB, leading to ITB injury. It’s no wonder every running blog talks about gluteus medius exercises for runners. If you want to get ahead during your offseason, make sure you check out this great video on glute strength for runners with our Chiro Keirstyn:

 

At Sheddon Physio, the therapists will take you through a series of functional movement testing, as well as strength testing, to determine which muscles need to be strengthened. Every runner gets a program tailored to their specific needs and risk factors. 

Cross Train

swimmer-shoulder-injury

While running is great, the off-season is a great time to cross train with a different activity and move your body in a different way. Not only will this help with injury prevention but it can also improve your running performance. Studies have looked at endurance runners who cross train with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) based workouts (ie., F45, Orange theory) and runners see improvement in their running economy, strength and VO2max. You can also cross train with activities like swimming and cycling. While these activities are great for injury prevention and maintaining your fitness level, they haven’t been shown to enhance your running performance like strength or cross training.

Not sure what to do with your off-season?

Sheddon Physiotherapy has a great team of therapists that can assess and treat your current injuries. During your assessment, we will go through your running history (ie., how often you run, what type of surface, shoes, etc).  We will also do an objective scan looking at range of motion, strength and function.  When appropriate, we will also do a biomechanical analysis on the treadmill. While you are running on the treadmill, we look at stride length, foot strike, cadence and any other biomechanical dysfunctions which may be leading to your injury or can lead to a future injury. If you have questions about footwear, we also have a pedorthist on site that can answer any of your questions. 

If you want more information on how to treat your current running injury or develop a running specific training program to reduce the risk of injury, your Sheddon Therapists can get you started. Book online here.

Related posts: