First move well, then move often. You’re training for a marathon, or bike 50 miles every weekend, but can you touch your toes? Balance on one leg? Squat past parallel? When it comes to preventing injuries, competency with these types of basic, fundamental movements is key.
Running and cycling are high-level activities that inherently require a lot of repetitive motion. Thus, the majority of injuries related to them are the result of overuse. But when we break it down, these sports injuries most commonly occur because we are overloading patterns of movement our bodies aren’t fully prepared to perform.
Running is essentially the ultimate exercise of single leg balance. During your 5k, not once will both feet be on the ground at the same time. If you find it difficult to maintain your balance on one leg for more than 10 seconds, or if one side is easier to balance on than the other, it is unreasonable to expect your body to hold up over miles and miles of intense running.
Cycling is an exercise involving repetitive bending of your hips and knees. Without a baseline level of stability and mobility through those movements, your injury risk with cycling drastically increases. If you can touch your toes easily while standing up, and perform a good squat while holding your hands overhead, your body meets the prerequisite requirements to safely cycle.
TAKE HOME POINTS
It’s difficult to build fitness on top of dysfunction; and even more difficult to stay healthy doing it. Studies show that athletes who have poor or asymmetrical balance, strength, and flexibility are up to 11 times more likely to sustain an injury than those without those deficits!
Too often the basics go overlooked. Our bodies are amazing… They will compensate to complete just about any activity we want to make it do. If you want to stay healthy, and benefit more from your workouts this spring, put yourself through a self-movement screen by checking some of these basic movements on yourself. You may be surprised by the results! If you have difficulties fixing any dysfunctions you find on your own, seek out a physical therapist or personal trainer that can help you get to the root of the issue.