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Running does not hurt your body

The quote comes from a book called “Chi Running” written by Danny Dreyer. Like a lot of aspects of running it sounds counter intuitive. Surely you get injured from running? However there is a growing body of opinion which believes that running is the most natural thing in the world for a human to do. The evolution of man as a hunter gatherer as documented by Chris McDougall in his aptly named book “Born to Run” concludes that we are supposed to run. In village communities in Kenya children are brought up to run as described in Adharanand Finn’s book “Running with the Kenyans”. There are many other books which describe running as a natural activity. So why all the injuries?

The answer lies in our 21st century life style. We may be “Born to Run” but with our life style we quite literally distort our bodies. Take a look around you on the Metro or in a fast food outlet. At least half of the people you see will be texting on their I-Phones, head down, shoulders bent forward. Have you wondered what that is doing to their posture. What about yourself at work. Are you spending hours at a computer terminal? Is your body balanced? Are you leaning forward? Is your chair at the right height? Is your screen in front of you or to one side. Do you drive a lot? Is your driving position balanced or does it distort your body? Do you frequently carry a lap top? Is it always on the same shoulder? Do you have to lean to one side to compensate for the weight on one shoulder. What about all of those activities which your parents (Grand parents if you are a kid) used to do which kept their bodies in trim. Housework, cooking, walking to the shops, gardening, cycling to work etc. Much of what we used to do which kept us in trim we now employ some one else to do!

Injury prevention can best be described as taking that neglected body and restoring it to how it was meant to be. That is exercising the muscles which our modern life style doesn’t use and where necessary restoring the balance between left side and right side. It all starts with the upper body. Imbalance in the upper body puts unequal strain on the lower limbs resulting in injury.

It’s important to take a few minutes to warm up on an exercise bike or cross trainer before commencing stretching  / core body exercises.  I exercise for 40 minutes, 5 days a week on my way into work. 20 minutes warm up followed by 20 minutes core body exercises. I’m sure that it is a key factor in reducing my injury rate to almost zero. Over the last 2 years on a couple of occasions I have had to rest for 2 days due to calf muscle strain and that is the extent of my time lost through injury. It is recommended to make the core muscle training as much a habit of your daily life as cleaning your teeth or logging on to face book. If you don’t feel that you have time then the next time you are on Face Book or watching a television program ask yourself “Why am I not exercising instead of doing this?” And here is a fact “I do not have a television and haven’t had one for nearly 20 years!”

There’s plenty of information on the internet concerning core body training. Buzz words to check out are “TRX” and “Pilates”.

However, I would also recommend this video on You Tube featuring British international marathon runner, Liz Yelling. The girl doing the exercises under the guidance of Liz is Ellie Barnes, a former Dubai Road Runner.