One thing I have learned in the past 1.5 years of being in my 30s is that my body just does not respond to running the way that it did when I was in my 20s. Honestly, I’m baffled with just how different my body feels now than it did just 2 years ago. Maybe part of it was being pregnant the last year of my 20s, but I really just think I’m starting to believe what everyone had been telling me when I was 29: your body changes so much in your 30s.
But, thinking back, I went through the same thing upon entering my 20s. I spent my teenage years active in sports. The only injuries I really dealt with were broken bones from injuries that just simply weren’t preventable. Otherwise, I could run and jump pretty much all I wanted without much of a consequence. I was healthy all 4 years of volleyball (despite some shin splints since I was running after volleyball practice every day my sophomore year) and the 2 years I ran track.
However, once I got into my 20s, my body started to rebel. That’s when I really started focusing on running to avoid gaining the “Freshman Fifteen” in college, and right after my 21st birthday, I ended up with a stress fracture in my foot. Ugh. I fought foot injuries until I was 25, when I think I finally got everything figured out and stayed fairly healthy.
That is, until I reached 30. I’ve spent the past year battling nagging aches and pains, and the only explanation I can give is that I just simply can’t treat my body the same way I did in my 20s. Which was no warm-ups or stretching, and if I missed a week or 2 of strength training (which I rarely did because I spent the majority of my 20s child-free), I would feel sore for a day or 2 with no other repercussions.
So, I’ve been doing my best to figure out what I need to do in order to stay injury free and continue running though my 30s and into my 40s. I’m a big believer in injury prevention rather than injury rehabilitation. I want to fight off the injury before it even happens. Right now, I’m having to do a little of both (out of my own stupidity), but if I can prevent an injury from occurring, I obviously will be much better off.
(Side note: I feel like this is a lot of the reason why I didn’t go into physical therapy. I didn’t necessarily want to rehab injuries but prevent them. Had I known that is basically what chiropractic is all about, I would’ve gone into that out of college – or before getting my teaching certificated, but maybe some day…)
A lot of my little nagging injuries I feel could be prevented through some good hip strength and mobility. I’ve been doing a quick 5 minute hip mobility warm-up since November and I feel like it has really made a difference in how I feel after a run. Plus, it’s helped keep me (fairly) injury free since I started doing it and my paces have gotten faster. (Side note 2: my hamstring pull was largely due to a lack of warm-up or doing this hip circuit before a race. Stupid.)
This literally takes 5 minutes or less to complete and you will definitely feel it. Take it easy to start with but you can eventually progress to doing 2 sets.
[Tweet “Gaining strength and mobility in the hips to prevent injury with this hip circuit by @concrete_runner.”]
Start on hands and knees, with spine in neutral, core stabilized. Keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, raise your knee out to the side until it is parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep your hips and shoulders squared to the floor. Hold for a second and return to the start. Complete 10 repetitions on your right and then repeat with your left leg.
Start on hands and knees, with spine in neutral, core stabilized. Keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, raise your knee out to the side until it is parallel to the floor. From this position, straighten your leg until it is straight behind you. Then, bend your knee and return to the starting position, keeping your knee off the floor. You should feel like you are drawing a circle with your hip joint, not necessarily your knee. Complete 10 repetitions and then reverse directions, staying on the same side. Repeat with your opposite leg.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Draw your abs in toward your spine, pushing your lower back to the floor. Keeping your core in this same position, raise your hips up toward the ceiling, squeezing your glute/butt muscles. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position. Complete 10 repetitions.
To make this a little more challenging, complete the same exercise but with one leg extended. Be sure to lift with your glutes and not your leg. Complete 10 repetitions on each leg.
Lay on your back with you legs extended and arms out to your sides. Lift your right leg straight up in the air and then cross it over your body to your left side, attempting to touch your left hand while it is on the floor. (If you can’t do that, don’t worry – just try to get it up as much as possible, almost perpendicular to the rest of your body.) Bring your leg back up and return to the starting position. Then repeat with your left side. Alternate sides to complete 10 repetitions on each side.
Lay flat on your stomach with legs extended and arms out to your sides. Bending your right knee, cross your foot/leg over to your left side, attempting to touch your left hand with your foot while keeping your hand on the floor. (If you can’t do that, don’t worry – just try to get your foot/leg as close to your hand as possible.) Return your right leg back to the starting position and then repeat with your left side. Continue to alternate sides to complete 10 repetitions on each side.
There are more things that I am currently doing in order to prevent injury, but I feel like this is pretty good for one day. I’ll be sharing my running drills as well as my stretching routine since I know that has been a major area of concern not only for me, but for my chiropractor as well. I still hate stretching, but I’m getting better about actually doing it now…
Have you noticed a change in your body as you age? What do you do to prevent running and/or training injuries?
[Tweet “Dealing with running injuries + preventing them in your 30s.”]