By Meggie Morley, DPT Student
It is well known that exercise is crucial for living a long and healthy life, but recent studies have shown that running may actually be the most effective exercise for increasing life expectancy. In a recent study by Lee et al., it was found that running can increase a person’s life span by 3 years, and reduces the risk of premature death by 40%. The researchers also noted that the benefits are the same regardless of pace, mileage, drinking and smoking or being overweight.
Hopefully studies such as this one encourage people to take up running, so here are a few things to do before going on a run to boost performance and minimize the risk of injury. The idea behind these exercises are to warm up the muscles and joints before running as well as “turn on” the muscles we want to be active while running.
1. Warm Up
Start by simply walking for a few minutes to increase blood flow and prime the joints and muscles for motion.
2. Walking Lunges with Torso Twist-Works: Quads, gluts, hamstrings
Step forward with the right leg into a lunge. Place your right hand next to the right foot then twist your trunk to the left while reaching the left arm up towards the ceiling.
3. Planks with Knee Drive-Works: Abdominals, hip flexors
Hold a high plank with the shoulder directly over the wrists. Alternate driving the knees towards the chest ten times. Then perform ten knee drives toward the same side elbow and ten toward the opposite elbow in order to engage both the rectus abdominus and the obliques.
4. Bridges-Works: Abdominals, gluts, hamstrings
The gluteal muscles are crucial for generating power and maintaining proper biomechanics down the entire lower extremity while running. Do three sets of bridges with a focus on keeping the core engaged and lifting the hips with the gluts in order to prepare the muscles to be active during running.
5. Alternating Lunge with Medial Reach-Works: Quads, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius
Step forward with the right leg into a lunge and reach out to the left with the left arm. Perform ten lunges then switch sides. This places more demand on the gluteus medius, which is important for maintaining proper pelvis alignment during running.
Blog Post written by Meggie Morley, DPT Student at Columbia University. Meggie is currently in her final Clinical Rotation with me at Catz Physical Therapy Institute.
- Lee DC, Brellenthin AG, Thompson PD, Sui X, Lee IM, Lavie CJ. Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. 2017 Mar 30.