Getting ready for a run requires full rehabilitation, says physiotherapist Paul Hobrough. Here’s how to prepare your body properly
Whatever your level and however low or lofty your goals, it is essential that you protect your body as much as possible from the rigours of running miles and limit the risk of injuries that will interrupt your training.
And the best way to do this is by performing key exercises as part of a robust ‘prehabilitation’ programme.
All of these exercises can be done at home with minimal equipment – you’ll see the benefits when it’s time to get back to training for your event.
WHAT IS PREHAB?
Prehab is different to a warm-up or a cool down. Although there will be some obvious crossovers, the objectives for each are different. A warm-up is, as it sounds, to warm up the body and prepare it for the coming exercise regime; a cool down is used to slowly reduce the heart rate, lengthen soft tissues and speed recovery.
What prehab, warm-up and cool down all have in common is their goal of reducing injury. Prehabilitation, or ‘prehab’, is a key part of a runner’s build-up to any event.
Also known as strength and conditioning, it is far removed from a lengthy and gruelling gym session – a starting point for most runners is some basic body work exercises such as those I outline in this guide.
Some of these moves you may not have heard of before, which means they might provide the greatest positive impact on your ability as a runner, while making you more impervious to injury.
Where possible, the exercises chosen incorporate several muscle areas to be worked simultaneously in an attempt to limit the number of individual exercises and thus the time taken. Try to do a combination of these exercises on a daily basis for between 8-10 minutes.
Your Essential Prehab Routine
Time: 2 minutes
- Place a towel out on the floor in front of your chair
- Place the toes onto the towel with the heel flat on the floor
- By raising and lowering your forefoot, grab the towel with your toes on every downward movement and scrunch the towel towards you
- Repeat this for two minutes
Time: 1.5 minutes
- Stretch the soleus (the deeper, flat muscle in your calf) for 45 seconds on each leg
- Stand facing a wall with your feet 10-20cm from the wall, one foot in front of each other.
- Bend both knees until you feel a dull stretch deep in the calf muscle
Time: 3.5 minutes
- Stand with your back against a wall
- Take a step away from the wall
- Keeping your heels in contact with the floor, raise your toes up as far as you can and slowly back to the floor, but do not allow them to touch
- Repeat for 4 x 25 reps
Time: 3 minutes
- Start on tiptoes, standing on the edge of a step
- Slowly lower until your heel cannot lower any further
- Return to the top again in one smooth movement
- Repeat for 3 x 15 reps
Time: 3 minutes
- Start with toes pointing outward, then raise the heels up
- When close to the top of a calf raise, rotate the heels in toward each other before slowly lowering them back down to flat again
- Repeat for 3 x 25 reps