Dr. Jason Lemieux

With Tina Ziebart, Dr. Jason Lemieux discusses issues that occur from running. Almost 70% of runners have injuries at any given time. This is usually due to many runners taking a break due to the weather and injuries occur when they are starting to get back into shape. Together, Dr. Lemieux and Tina take you through some tactics and exercises so that these injuries can be prevented.

In the following video, Dr. Jason Lemieux discusses tactics on how to be the best runner possible.

Dr. Lemieux: I’m Dr. Jason Lemieux from Physiomed, Oakville, and we’re gonna be talking about running. So, I’m gonna bring in a better run expert than myself. This is Tina Ziebart. She is one of our kinesiologists, just completed the Around the Bay.

So, we know that when we get a lot of people coming into the clinics with lots of issues from running, research tells us that upwards of 70% of runners have injuries at any given time. And there’s lots of reasons for that. One of them is that our bodies just aren’t maybe necessarily ready to start running when the weather starts turning nicer, nicer than it is today, to get us outside running.

So, Tina, what are some of the biggest mistakes we see in people’s actual mechanics when they run that might be causing some of their pain?

Tina: Yeah. So, a big problem is that a lot of people while they’re running will heel-strike. So, they’ll come down, strike their heels, step through, strike with the other heel, step through. So, when we’re heel-striking, we’re actually turning off that posterior chain there, so we’re not getting that calf activation. We’re not getting the glute [inaudible 00:01:00] activation that we would need. And so that’s a huge mistake.

And then another problem is a lot of people will overstride, so they’ll try to take bigger steps to try to think that they’re faster.

Dr. Lemieux: I know that’s me. More strides, go faster [inaudible 00:01:13].

Tina: Yep. And it’s not necessarily the case. So, again, if we’re thinking that we’re really overstepping, we’re becoming pretty inefficient. We can get a lot of IT strain. We can get some hip flexor strain. And, again, we’re turning off the calf [inaudible 00:01:24] glute meet, so we’re not using our muscles to our advantage.

Dr. Lemieux: So, if we want to maybe correct some of that, what are some things that people can think about in terms of while they’re running? What should it feel like? Or what should they be aiming?

Tina: Yeah. So, of course, the biggest thing to try to correct that heel strike would be then to try to land on our forefoot. So, now, we’re thinking that we’re running a little bit more on the toes. Not the entire stride. Eventually, we want to get that heel down again to push off. But we do wanna think about getting that forefoot striking the ground first. So, even if you’re just beginning the running, we wanna start with maybe short, short bouts so that we’re not frying out our calves right away, but just getting used to sort of landing on our calf.

And then the other thing, as I’m demonstrating this, you know, toe-touching here, you can see that my ankle is right underneath my knee. And that will help with the overstriding. So, even after we come onto our forefoot, and we’re still…

Dr. Lemieux: Yeah. We’re still trying to overstride. Yeah.

Tina: Yeah. And we’re not gonna get that efficient gait that we could be getting. So, we wanna think of doing smaller, more frequent steps to try to help with that.

And then another common mistake that some people do is they’ll try to lean forward, so, again, trying to think about pulling their chest forward. But then that will turn off the core and the glutes as well. So while we’re practicing getting our toes down, getting our heel right underneath our knee, we wanna think about standing tall, keeping our shoulders sort of in line, and keeping our whole body sort of stacked on top of itself.

Dr. Lemieux: Cool. I know for the forefoot thing, a lot of running advice will come to the thought of, you know, you may not be running barefoot, but you can almost think like you’re running barefoot.

Tina: Exactly.

Dr. Lemieux: Like if you thought about taking your shoes off and going out to run, there’s no way you would strike your heel on the ground. It would feel terrible, right? If you’re on bare feet, you 100% would be on the ball of your foot, or at least your forefoot, because that’s where that elastic kind of recoil’s gonna be. That’s where your foot is most efficient at transferring energy. And, yeah, I love the idea of being on the forefoot helping to get the glute to fire.

I think we were talking also about run than merely pushing off of the ground. The idea of maybe pointing the leg through, is that something that we wanna…?

Tina: Yeah. Exactly. We definitely wanna think about driving that knee forward. So, if we were initially thinking about that stance foot…so, we’re striking the ground. We wanna strike it with our toe with our foot stacked. But then, as we’re pulling through, we wanna think about driving that knee forward. And if we’re thinking about, you know, the foot striking properly, we’re getting the glutes firing, we’re driving the knees forward. We’re using all the right muscles in our legs to make a run.

Dr. Lemieux: No, that’s great. And even for non-runners, that’s kind of a drill that we’ll do with people is to help get their glutes activated is we’ll have them balance on one leg and try to pull the one leg up. And what we’ll find is the better they get at flexing the one hip, the better they get at extending the opposite hip. So, as we get the hip flexor on one side to fire, your glute kind of automatically fires on the other side. And, again, knowing that that’s a reflex, that just makes it a really efficient thing that you can turn over. So, as you go from that one stance leg to the next, optimizing then pull through, rather than just trying to push off of the ground and then heel-striking, yeah, it’s gonna make it a lot more of an efficient run. And you’re gonna transfer energy that much better through your body, so we’re gonna decrease a lot of the injuries.

And some of the stuff we’ve talked about in other newsletters, again, if we’re gonna start to strike on that forefoot and we want that nice, pliable, springy mechanism that is our foot to work, again, we’re big advocates of using the foam roller. In this case, even a golf ball or a lacrosse ball. Make sure that we’ve got all that, you know, tightness and stiffness through the joints and soft tissues of the foot rolled out, so that you have that nice accommodative foot to bounce off of. And we were talking before about maybe some recovery things either while we’re running or after running.

Tina: Yeah. So, I found that something that’s really helped… I only got into marathon running recently. And so one thing that I found was really helpful, especially post-run, was compression socks. So, I’ll just slide them on after a couple of my long runs, and it’ll just help bring that blood flow back. And I find that my calves aren’t nearly as sore as they were before I started wearing the compression socks.

Dr. Lemieux: Absolutely. And, again, I’m a huge [inaudible 00:05:19] to the compression socks bandwagon. If the weather is such that I’m not wearing shorts, I’m usually in compression socks, especially for anybody that’s doing a lot of plyometric exercise. I know me, doing CrossFit, a lot of double unders, box jumps, my calves will get fried. But just throwing the compression socks on either during the workout or afterwards for recovery, it shortens that recovery time tremendously. You’ll feel a lot better.

So, those are great tips where we wanna make sure that we get you off your heels so you’re not heel-striking. Make sure that, hey, that long stride that I thought was, “Yeah, I’ll just take as much stride as I can,” it’s kind of inefficient. So, shorten that stride up, get on the ball of the foot, or get onto the forefoot, pull that leg through. Make sure your feet are healthy enough to handle all the pounding that you’re gonna absorb from the running. And then you shall have a great year of being able to run as much as you want. You’ll be bulletproof. And, what, it’s ultramarathons now? Is that what we call it now?

Tina: Exactly. Yeah.

Dr. Lemieux: Yeah. All right. Have fun running your ultramarathons.

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