Tackle hidden form flaws

Spot and solve your running barriers to increase spreed and banish injury.

by Jennifer Hughes

mud running
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Clue: Mud or kick marks on your calves.

Post-run mud smudges on your calves usually mean more than  extra scrubbing in the shower.

‘Typically, it’s because of weak glute muscles, which help stabilise the foot in the stance phase,’ says six-time Ironman world champion Dave Scott. ‘The second factor is poor hip extension.’

What this means is that when your leg is in the push-off phase, your hips don’t stay square; instead, they twist a little to allow you to seemingly enhance your push-off. In reality, says Scott, you end up losing power.

Scott refers to the navel as the runner’s eyeball; the goal is for it to always look straight ahead. If you’re hitting your other leg, your navel is probably swinging left and right like a windscreen wiper, causing the hips to open up too much to the side on push-off.

When this happens, your foot comes through on the swing phase and hits the side of the opposite leg.

Fix it

1. Stretch cord hip extension

Place a stretch cord around your right ankle and anchor the other end to something stable in front of you. Stand on a block with your standing (left) leg knee slightly bent and the stretch-cord leg swinging freely.

Swing it back into hip extension and then return to the start position. Do 3x12-15 reps on each leg, every other day. ‘The main fatigue should be felt in the support leg glutes,’ says Scott.

‘Maintaining the support leg in the perfect “stance” running position is key to this exercise.’

2. Stretch cord hip abduction

The second part of this two-in-one deal moves you quickly into hip abduction. Turn 90 degrees right so you are left-
side-on to the cord anchor. Step over the cord so that it passes freely behind the achilles tendon of your standing (left) leg.

Then move your legs apart and  swing the stretch-cord leg out. Do 3x12-15 reps on each leg, every other day.

‘It’s a fantastic exercise for your glutes with the load on your support leg,’ says Scott.

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