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For the Light Footed Balance training and its benefits against running related injuries

Research shows balance training can be used to prevent and treat acute ankle sprains, and reduce the chances of ankle injuries in the future.

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Running related injuries play

Running related injuries


It may sound counterintuitive, but the best long-distance runners didn't get so good from running alone.

To run harder, better, faster, stronger, they supplement their runs with other forms of exercise like cross-training, strength training, and interval running.

Studies show these are all important elements in any training plan to become a better runner.

Sadly, many runners still neglect one crucial component of training: improving their balance.

Research shows balance training can be used to prevent and treat acute ankle sprains, and reduce the chances of ankle injuries in the future.

Depending on its severity, a sprained ankle can disrupt even the most carefully planned training schedules and take anywhere from four weeks to a seemingly endless 12 months to fully heal.

Unlike repetitive stress injuries, like shin splints or runner’s knee, traditional ankle sprains are acute, trauma-related injuries from rolling an ankle on uneven terrain, explains Jason Fitzgerald, a running coach.

This stretches or tears one or more main ligaments that connect the ankle to the foot, creating swelling and bruising at the site of injury.

Moderate (rather than trauma-related) ankle or foot pain can also affect runners.

"A large percentage of runners tend to overstride or pace improperly, which can lead to ankle soreness,” says Chris Johnson, a physical therapist, All-American triathlete, and triathlon coach.

Running is a plyometric activity, and bounding from one leg to the next with relatively short contact times puts considerable demand on a runner’s muscles and joints, which can lead to injury, Johnson explains.

“If a runner has difficulty balancing on one leg on solid ground, running will be that much more difficult due to the increased forces and dynamic nature of the sport”.

Here are some things you may been missing out on from balance training, which could be the reason why you suffer from running related injuries.

Single leg drill for balance training play

Single leg drill for balance training



1. You'll develop Herculean ankle strength.

"Balancing exercises can strengthen the ankle and surrounding musculature that provide stability while running," Fitzgerald says. One study found that athletes with chronic ankle instability demonstrated significant improvements in their ankle strength after completing a four-week balance training programs .

2. You'll improve your sense of awareness.

A neuromuscular component of balance known as proprioception, or your sense of where your limbs are positioned in space, becomes impaired during an ankle sprain.

Single-legged exercises train the brain to anticipate and coordinate movements in one’s leg muscles, making athletes less prone to recurrent ankle sprains.

That's also why strength training, with a focus on improving balance and proprioception, can help runners skirt around surprise bumps and obstacles on the ground by heightening their awareness of where either foot will land, relative to other objects.

3. It helps you balance on one leg.

“When you run, there’s a period of time when you’re completely in the air—unlike walking, when one foot is always in contact with the ground,” Fitzgerald says.

“In this sense, running can be considered a very coordinated series of one-legged hops.” Single-leg exercises can improve running-specific strength and limit any imbalances that might occur.

4. It requires little to no equipment.

Balance training can be done literally anywhere, at any time. Most single-leg rehab exercises fit easily into any routine, allowing injured runners to multi-task like a boss.

First, it’s important to keep pressure off of the injured leg (RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Next up should be to see a doctor who can recommend the best course of treatment, which may or may not involve an ankle brace to maximize ankle protection and minimize swelling.

Whatever you do, don't run.

Running too soon after a sprain may inflict permanent damage.

In fact, people who have already had an ankle injury are five times more likely to have another ankle issue in the future .

“Too often, I find that injured runners who seek physical therapy services are in denial,“ Johnson says. “They make the situation worse or prolong it by trying to run through it.”

Chronic ankle instability from an incompletely rehabilitated ankle sprain can lead to further impairments and dysfunction, he adds.

Focus on low-impact activities, like swimming, cycling, or rowing, which don’t require sharp, sudden ankle motions.

As athletes gradually ease themselves back into the groove of running, Johnson recommends safeguarding against injury by not increasing their mileage more than 30 percent each week.

Finally, improve ankle strength and minimize the risk of re-injury with simple balancing exercises.

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