Friday, August 2, 2013

Injury Favorites: Knowledge Is Power

I've been meaning to do this for quite a while and finally got inspired to get it done.  I've been injured for a long time now.  I haven't run in a quarter of a year.  I haven't run injury free in almost ten months. This means I have been spending a lot of time dealing with injury.  That is the downside.  There are actually quite a few upsides to this whole thing and I decided to document those as well.

First up on the agenda is how I have spent this time beefing up on my understanding of the way a body should work and how my body is deficient.

1) Mobility WOD and "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Kelly Starrett

I stumbled onto the Mobility WOD website about half a year ago.  The site has since gone to a pay-to-view format for some of their videos but a ton of great stuff is still up there for free.  Starrett is a physical therapist and a pretty big person in the CrossFit world.  When I first found the website I couldn't bookmark videos for future reference fast enough.

For example, this gem:

The first lesson I learned from my physical therapists and especially personal trainer was, "KNEES OUT!"  I swear I hear my trainer saying "KNEES OUT!" in my head every time I squat, stand up, and  walk up and down stairs.  Hopefully later when I start running again this will all translate.  I used to have to really concentrate on it and I find it is pretty much second nature for me now.  Both my knees are super crunchy because of sheer forces and I want to keep them happy for as long as I can.

After creeping the videos for a bit I learned that there was going to be a book released!  I got my hands on a copy right away.  Angela and I were discussing this a while back.  We both moaned over the odd title and I found myself hugging it tightly to my body as I walked to work so people wouldn't wonder about it.  The book encapsulates what is covered in his videos.  Good form for all types of movements, why it is important, and how to keep your body mobile.

I can't say I have read the whole thing as it is quite the monster, but it is a great reference and I highly recommend it.  Runners will probably delight in the extensive sections which teach you how to roll, stretch, and trigger point out tight areas in all parts of the body (he refers to it as smashing and flossing).

Starrett recently announced he is collaborating on a book focused for running which is coming out early next year.  I'll be keeping an ear to the ground to see if it is as good as I hope it will be.

2) "Anatomy for Runners" by Jay Dicharry

Oiselle pro runner, Lauren Fleshman, blogged about this book and after reading the reviews I got myself a copy.  I devoured it in just a few days.  Whenever a new runner asks how they should start out, the knee-jerk answer is usually, "Get professionally fitted for shoes."  My new answer is going to be to get a copy of this book and read it cover to cover.

If I had read this book over ten years ago when I first started running -- and had I the maturity to take it seriously -- I really believe I would never have had any serious injuries in my running life.  I admit it would take a pretty forward thinking person to read this book and apply what is in it when they are not in any pain.  But there were multiple scenarios in this book that described all types of things I have experienced over the years and I wanted to bang my head into the wall and scream, "If I only knew then what I know now!"

The book is not without flaws -- it sorely needs an index (this applies to the above book, too), they could have utilized photographs better, and I think the what-is-wrong to the how-do-you-fix-it link is not as strong as it could have been.  BUT, if you have a functioning brain you can fill in these gaps and turn this into an amazing reference.

This book pretty much sums up everything I have learned about what I have been doing wrong.  After describing the science behind everything, the book goes through assessments so that you can find your weak links and then provides exercises to fix them.  The information in the book is not new but to have it in a tidy little package is priceless.

If you run and want to run long-term, get this.  I am planning to read it again and put little stickies all over it the second time.

3)  Kinetic Revolution

I can't remember how I found this website.  I followed them on twitter and I literally favorite 4/5 of every tweet they send because the article it links to is that great.  For example, I had a major aha moment with this one about chronically tight hamstrings.  My hamstrings always feel tight but I can get 90 degrees or more of flexion with them.  I have a weak core.  Aha!

These are the top three things I have been utilizing for my understanding of my injuries.  It is so much easier to put the work into fixing issues when I have a full understanding of why those issues are important to my running.  Everyone knows it is important to have a strong core, but why?  I've been doing all sorts of exercises for my gluteus medius, but why?  Planks and clamshells and squats get really old when you aren't sure why you are doing them and can't visualize exactly how they are going to keep you safe down the road.  Knowledge isn't just power, it is the best form of motivation.


Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thank you for all of this! I think these guys are all on the right track, however...

1. The guy on the MobilityWOD video needs to be clear that the rotation for "knees out" needs to come from the hips and not from the knees or ankles. Every ballerina knows this, and it's a principle I'm becoming reacquainted with in my adult ballet classes. Whatever your hips are doing, your knees should follow, or they'll end up taking potentially damaging torque forces.

2. Although James Dunne is right about weak core and pelvic instability driving hamstring tightness, I get so tired of physical therapists treating 90 degrees as "flexible" when for those of us who do (or have done) dance or gymnastics, this is embarrassingly stiff. I can't get more than 90 degrees whether my core is engaged or not, but PTs look at me with utter bewilderment when I complain that I'm too stiff.

Nevertheless, I can look in the mirror at dance practice and see when I'm getting lazy and letting my pelvis tip. When I'm running, my mind focused on traffic and obstacles, I'm lucky if I can stay core-focused for even a few minutes. Improvements in this area would definitely relieve the pressure on my hamstrings so that I can stretch them out properly.

I will be getting the "Supple Leopard" book asap, and I'll be passing some of your great info along to my friends. Who knows, maybe I can even find a few people to go in with me on a plank-a-day challenge to keep me honest! :-)

Cadbury sends binkies to Mario, btw!

RoadBunner said...

Hey, Ann!

Good point about the hips. My physical trainer does cue me to open up my hips to get my knees straight. In his book he does teach you how to get a neutral spine position starting from the hip position which then sort of carries down the chain to your legs in everything you do.

In the "Anatomy for Runners" book, the author does talk about how for a runner 90 degrees is sufficient but for other athletes it is not. So you are spot on there, too. Honestly, most PTs think my 90 degrees is a little tight but for running it is probably adequate.

Nose bumps to Cadbury!!

d. moll, said...

The Voodoo floss that Starret carried is awesome stuff and applicable in multiple situations.

naomi said...

I've read the Anatomy of Runners book and it is very good - glad you enjoyed it!

Rabbits' Guy said...

So much to learn, so little time. Keep it up - you'll be back on the road again.

Angela said...

I don't know the other two - might have to check them out!

Novak Jim said...

According to my opinion for the runners is that they learn about the correct running posture. If they want to stay away from the pains and injuries.
physical therapist in bergen county

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