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Posts Tagged ‘prevent injury’

Exercises to Strengthen your Ankles for Trail Running

Monday, August 30th, 2010

ankles-trail-runningEvery type of runner rolls or twists their ankle at sometime or another, but trail runners are especially susceptible to ankle injuries.  Rocks, roots, shrubs, and uneven terrain can lead to devastating ankle injuries which can only be cured by rest; not cool for trail runners.  Also, runners who are new to minimalist running should use ankle exercises before starting in their minimalist running shoes to ease the transition.  Minimalist runners sustain  more of an impact on their ankles than running in traditional running shoes.  There are exercises that can be done to strengthen ankles to avoid injuries while trail running or minimalist running, here are some that you can practice:

1.  Walk 40 steps on the balls of your feet with your toes turned inward.  Then walk 40 steps backward with your toes turned inward.  This will help strengthen both the muscles on the outside of the upper ankle along with the muscles on the top the foot.  This can also be done while riding a stationary bike.  Simply pedal on the balls of your feet while inverting your toes slightly.

2.  Walk backwards.  Obviously do this in an open, grassy area or on a track to avoid tripping over something; and hurting your ankles rather than strengthening them.  This exercise strengthens the muscles behind the ankle, and the calf muscles for an added bonus.

3. Rotate ankles 25 times clockwise and then 25 times counterclockwise.  This is a good exercise because it can be done anytime of the day.  This exercise strengthens the superior and interior extensor retinaculum; the ligament that binds down the tendons around the ankle.  This rotation is a great overall ankle strengthener.

4.  Sit in a chair with your back straight up against the back of the chair.  Extend feet out parallel to the ground and point toes straight out.  Do this 25 times a day to strengthen the muscles on the front of the upper ankle.

Doing these simple exercises will strengthen and stretch your ankles which will lead to less ankle injuries while trail running or minimalist running.  If possible, do these exercises just before running in order to get a good stretch in your ankle muscles before heading out.  Also, these exercises may cure cankles, although doctors still aren’t sure what causes or the exact cure for this horrible disease…hopefully some day…

Moji: The Smart Icing Alternative

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010


For many running related injuries, a good regiment of RICE techniques (rest, ice, compression, elevation) can cure the aches and pains without having to see a doctor.  The only problem is finding the time to go through the entire RICE routine after every run.  The answer is to multi-task with Moji compression and ice products!

The use of ice, or cryotherapy, for musculoskeletal injuries has been a primary treatment approach by health care providers and runners for many years.   Today, cryotherapy use continues to be a proven and beneficial adjunct to manage soft tissue injury.  When used in the proper clinical situation, cryotherapy can diminish pain, metabolism, and muscle spasm, thus minimizing the inflammatory response and improving recovery after soft tissue trauma from running.  Research has shown that icing is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective recovery techniques for muscles, helping runners recover faster from training and injuries.

In conjunction with cryotherapy, effective compression lowers the temperature of local tissues, resulting in reduced local blood flow, inflammatory markers, cellular metabolism, and nerve transmission.  Moji uses a body-part-specific cold compression product that allows you to have both ice, and compression on your ailing joints, giving you the maximum effectiveness for your recovery time.


Moji products are able to make icing and compression more effective, easy to use, and comfortable through their patent-pending two-peice construction, which incorporates the Moji Cold Cell and the Moji Compression Wrap.  The Moji composite of individual cold cells that conform to the body provide maximum flexibility and comfort allowing freedom of movement.  The Moji Cold cell is a soft, pliable ice pack that attaches to the Moji compression products with Velcro.  The Compression wrap is made of stretch fabric which is adjustable so you can control your compression and freedom of movement.

Moji products include both a knee and back wrap to cover all of your recovery needs.  The wraps are very comfortable and easy to use when doing any normal activities around the house.  The cold cell is easy to use too.  It only takes throwing it in the freezer in order for the cold cell to be ready for use.  The individual cells work well to cool the areas that need cooling without freezing your entire body.  If you are looking for a easy, convenient way to practice RICE techniques then give the Moji products a try!

How to Fall While Trail Running…or just Running.

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

We all fall sometimes.  It’s ok, it’s not embarrassing.  Just like anything in life, it’s all about how you do it.  If you are trail running, then you look cool falling because you are extreme.  If you are running on the road, then you look cool falling because you are obviously exhausted and have pushed yourself to the limit.  So now that your ego feels better, here’s some tips to keep the rest of your body from getting hurt by a fall.


1. Watch Yourself Falling: When you are going down on a trail run there is nothing you can do to stop the fall safely.  It is usually best not to try to grab on to anything to stop your fall.  Instead, look at the terrain you are falling on.  Make sure there is nothing dangerous like roots at your head or rocks near your knees where you will land.  Lean your body so you will hit the ground in the safest place possible.

2.  Prepare for Impact: Our instincts are to put our arms straight out in front of us to try to catch our fall.  Try not to do this.  When your arms are extended they will take the brunt of the impact.  Instead, bring your arms close to your chest with your palms facing out.  Your hands will be the first thing to touch the ground, but because they are bent at the elbow, they will have a way to absorb the impact better.

3.  Plan your Roll: Once you get your hands in position and are ready for impact, plan which way you want to roll.  You need to quickly decide where is the safest place to roll with your momentum.

4. Roll: Impact first with the hand on the side of your body that you want to roll to.  Use the second hand’s impact as a spring to propel you in the desired direction.  You don’t need to push hard at all.  Your momentum will do most of the work, you just need to give it some direction.

5.  Get Up: There are some techniques to rolling back into a run but I’m not going to talk about that.  The most important thing here to get back up.  Stop resting and keep trail running!

Is Trail Running Extreme?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Without a generally accepted unit of measure, quantifying the “extremeness” levels of an activity can be very difficult.  Two ways to measure how extreme your activity is by the level of adrenaline your body produces and the amount of risk involved in your activity.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands to stimulate the heart-rate, dilate your blood vessels, and open your air passages.  Your body produces adrenaline in high-stress or physically exhilarating situations.  So when your body produces adrenaline it means you are doing something extreme right?  Well, not necessarily.  Although many extreme activities are designed to promote the release of adrenaline to your body, other activities can produce adrenaline in the same way; such as alcohol, stress, caffeine, or sugar.  None of those things seem very extreme to me.  Maybe sugar and caffeine are what makes Mountain Dew so extreme.  So extreme.

I prefer to measure extremeness by the amount of risk you take.  A friend was trying to tell me last night that the television show “Man vs. Wild” was extreme.  I don’t agree because the host of the show has a safety net, which lowers the risk levels considerably. I will admit, most of the things the host does are risky and difficult (not to mention disgusting), but I assume, based on the presence of the cameraman, that if something horrible were to happen, that they have an a back-up plan.  I’m sure they always have an evacuation route, first-aid kit, and probably weapons to heed off wild animals.  If this is not true, then the cameraman is the real risk taker on the show, not the host.  He does everything the host does but with a camera!  AIG took risks but I wouldn’t consider them extreme.  Anyone can insure 150 billion dollars worth of assets without any collateral to back them up if they have a safety net in the form of a 70 billion dollar government bail out.  Too easy.  Put down the Mountain Dew and stop being a poser AIG man.

Extremeness is best measured by the amount of risk you take, without a safety net, and the severity of the potential outcome.  This is why trail running is extreme.  I admit that the risks of trail running is lower than other activities but the difference is that when you go down on the trail, you’re going down.  You can do very little to alter the outcome as the event is happening.  Not having control of whether or not you get injured is extreme.  Also, the types of injuries that can occur while trail running, broken or twisted joints and bones, can lead to a very detrimental outcome.  Runners often run daily, use it to relieve stress, and often don’t “feel right” when they aren’t able to run on a non-rest day.  Trail running injuries are often ones where the only thing you can do to recover is not run.  Not being able to run can be a very negative outcome to a runner.  Not to mention losing all of the ability gained from logging hundreds upon hundreds of miles in all conditions.  Other running injuries which are often developed over the long-term allow recovery to include not running as many miles or doing alternate cardiovascular training.  Trail running injuries usually require you to go “cold turkey.”  I wish trail running injuries would require you to go “jive turkey” instead.  That would be awesome.

Taking risks without a safety net and a high negative outcome is extreme so get out on the trail and run…or just put a lot of sugar in your coffee this morning.  Extreme!!!

You Don’t Have to Stay Off Your Knees

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

We all know running is plain, old healthy living; but it can also eventually take a toll on your body.  No matter how young or lightweight you are, everyone needs to be cautious of putting too much strain on their muscles, joints, and ligaments when running serious mileage.  One of the injuries that arises from running long distances is impact on the knees.  After jumping over 30 times out of a fast moving aircraft, flying less than 1000 ft from the ground, loaded with gear that matches my body weight, I have to be careful about the further impacts I put on my knees.  Here is what I have learned.

First line of defense is prevention.  As soon as you feel any pain in your knees you should begin to alter your running.  Some prevention methods are buying running shoes with more cushioning, running routes that do not have as much downhill, or changing the surface that you run on.  Get off the pavement and on the trail! To keep your knees pain free after runs, many people choose to place ice on them.  It helps the pain plus you look like an aging but still high preforming athlete!  At least that is what movies have shown.

If you have had sharp pains in your knees for a while now then these preventive techniques won’t work for you; luckily, you don’t have to stop running all together.  First, try to understand what is exactly wrong with your knees. The easiest way to identify this is to identify where the sharp pain is exactly.  If you are not sure, consult a doctor for more specific knowledge and possible testing.  After you identify where the problem is you need to search for the knee brace that is best for your injury.  Knee braces are a great way to reduce stress and impact on your muscles and ligaments while allowing you to still run close to your pre-knee injury abilities.  Knee braces are made to keep your knee and knee cap aligned and come in bulky, flexible, or sturdy models.  Everyone’s knees are different so either consult a doctor or try out different knee braces before deciding on which one is best for your knees.

So relieve some mental stress and get back on your knees!

Trail Running vs. Road Running

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Trail Running is better.  There you have it.  I’m out!

Ok, even though my opinion is always correct, I am very open-minded and look at every question from all sides of the argument.  Therefore, I have decided that there are both pros and cons to trail running and road running.  Let’s start where most of us started running; on the road.  The pro to road running are the even surfaces and the determinable distances.  This makes the road a great place to run when following a strict training plan with little room for variation or miscalculations.  Road Running is also probably more convenient to most of us; unless your front door is off of a trail run, in which case you are probably too awesome to read this blog anyways.  I have found that the biggest negative to road running is that it consists of running on hard surfaces.  While asphalt is better than concrete, both surfaces are very hard and put a lot of strain on your joints.  Hard surfaces easily cause injuries such as shin splints and runner’s knee which develop over a long time and take a long time to heal.  The trail offers a softer surface that does not put as much stress on joints.

However, Trail Running is not exempt from eliciting injury.  If you are not an experienced Trail Runner you may be just as likely to get an injury due to falling or running into nature.  When running on a trail, runners must always pay attention to the surface they are running on to avoid these spills and falls.  You can’t zone out on the trail like you do on the road, so if you like to think while running, stay on the streets…but pay attention to the crosswalks.  Although training is difficult to standardize on the trail, the trail does offer a much different and better work out than running on the road.  On the trail, you are able to burn more calories mile for mile because of the uneven terrain and amount of steps you must take vs. the same distance on the road.  The uneven terrain is also great for working your leg muscles, giving your body a variation in movements.  Trail Running is also great for building endurance because of the mental aspect; you aren’t sure how far you have gone and how difficult the trail ahead is, you just keep running to find out.  No matter how tired you are.  What are you going to hitch a ride back to your start point?

Obviously both Trail Running and Road Running have their advantages and disadvantages but sometimes logistics make one more feasible than the other.  Trail Running gives you a better work out and is better for preventing long-term injuries so get out on the trail.  Also keep in mind that you should “train as you fight,” or in running terms, run on the surface you intend to race on.  Remember, all routes and running surfaces are not created equal.