Written by Dr Matt Bulman, Sports Chiropractor
Regular exercise is arguably the most proactive way you can improve your overall health, and running is a great way to get your dose. However, a common thread amongst both new and seasoned runners is the very high injury rates associated with the sport. So how do we reconcile telling you to exercise on the one hand, and help you avoid injury on the other?
The answer: improve your technique!
It is counter intuitive that we should have to learn how to run. Yet most other sports (swimmers to golfers, archers to dancers) rely on lessons, technique and form as a means to avoid injury and improve. Should running be any different?
One simple, yet incredibly powerful way to run with better technique is to improve your spinal posture.
A good, upright posture works with the natural curves in your spine. An adult’s neutral spine is never flat, but instead has distinct curves, especially in the neck and the low back.
Deviations from this neutral posture change your centre of mass and shock your body into absorbing forces poorly. The result can be painful. Headache, neck, shoulder and low back pain can all be triggered by poor posture, especially while running. For example, every 2.5 cm that your head juts forward from neutral, the weight of your head doubles! This is not very efficient.
Yet with an upright posture, your body is so much more capable of distributing the forces evenly. When upright, the spine can work with gravity so that your muscles need not work as hard. It can take pressure off of your neck, shoulders and low back! Standing upright also opens the passage way to your lungs for O2/CO2 exchange. These all greatly improve your efficiency.
One simple thing to do before your run is to find a neutral posture. There are many ways to do this, and you should ask your healthcare provider during your next visit. But one technique I enjoy teaching is called the Champions Drill. Before you start your run, reach both of your arms vertically into the air as high as you can. Really stretch. Now imagine helium balloons are individually attached to the top of your fingers, centre of the head, the top of your chest, and the front of the pelvis, all lifting you further upwards. Then, maintaining this posture through your torso, drop your arms by your side. Now you can start your run with a safe, efficient, upright and neutral spine.
Matt Bulman is a chiropractor and a new addition to Specialist Sports Medicine Centre. Beyond spinal corrections to keep you functioning best, Matt diagnoses and treats conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm and shoulders of athletes. And if you have a body, you are an athlete!
Thai Sweet Chilli Fish
By Dr Helen O’Connor (Dietitian at Specialist Sports Medicine Centre) & Donna Hay
4 x 185g white fish fillets
LEMON & CHILLI MARINADE
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1/2 cup/125mL sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil