Last week we chatted about embracing the hills of Colorado and how to run UP them. So now let’s talk about the downhill. Megan Mormile, MS, ATC, Rehabilitation Coordinator at Studholme Chiropractic gives us some great advice!
Living in Colorado, chances of you running down a mountain at some point during your training are high to higher. If you’re a frequent mountain runner, you’ve probably noticed that those downhills take a toll on your body after the fact- let’s face it, trying to do ANYTHING with sore legs is brutal!
Below we’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of your downhill running, and keep your body healthy on the hills no matter what kind of training comes your way!
5 Tips to Improve Your Downhill Running
1. Strengthen Your Quads: The quad and knee joint is the best shock absorber in the body- and it takes quite a beating with downhill running. It is paramount to keep them strong. Check out the picture below for a cool and simple way to isolate and strengthen! Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 squats.
2. Increase Your Ankle Mobility: Downhill running requires a good amount of range throughout the ankle joint. Without proper mobility, forces may be translated elsewhere- which may lead to injury. Try this variation to mobilize the ankle joint before your next trail run. Focus on keeping a straight line through the shoulders and hips as you lean forward into the wall. Moving through the different positions mobilize the back ankle.
3. Strengthen Your Gastroc-Soleus Complex: Unbeknownst to many, the soleus (the muscle that lies underneath the gastroc) is very explosive. The push-off phase during running is very dependent on calf, and especially soleus, activity. It is essential to keep them strong, in order to absorb shock from running downhill! Check below for a good soleus-specific strengthening exercise. Knees need to be bent to isolate the soleus.
4. Stay Loose and Stop Thinking: During activities such as running and walking, the movement becomes very reflexive; meaning, your body will take care of what it needs to without you actively thinking about it. The more relaxed you can be during an activity, the more efficient you will be!
5. Attack the Hill: A lot of mentality surrounding downhill running is focused on the landing. But what if we told you to shift your mindset to pushing OFF the downhill, instead of striking it? Focusing on a push off the ball of your foot rather than a heel strike shifts your weight forward, lengthens your stride, and conserves energy.
Looking for more tips on proper running form and strengthening, or have questions about an injury? Schedule an appointment today with the most comprehensive chronic pain clinic in Colorado. Call Studholme Chiropractic at 303-939-0004 for a free consultation.