MAINTAINING YOUR STRIDE WHEN SIDELINED WITH INJURY
IN THE RUNNING
FEW THINGS ANNOY triathletes more than being injured. Time off training requires lots of commitment and patience. Among the most common lower extremity injuries for triathletes are plantar fasciitis, stress fractures and sprained or strained ankles, all of which require an athlete to stop or reduce running.
There are excellent cross-training options for athletes, including water running and getting on an elliptical machine. Water running is perfect for its non-weight bearing nature, while the elliptical, also very low weight-bearing, allows runners to hit near optimal cadence while training, which is hard to mimic in the pool. You can reach a higher cadence in the pool, but only while doing the piston style of running (knees pumping straight up and down). It’s great for cardio, but not biomechanically specific. The most natural running style in the pool results in a very slow cadence, but is therapeutic for hamstring flexibility and strength as well as upper-body strength.
Lifesport coach Jeremy Howard used water running sessions to help an athlete whose foot was run over by a car. “The athlete sustained multiple broken bones and trauma to the ligaments and tendons. We used three months of water running to prepare for her return to running. We used increasing amounts of cadence-based efforts to elevate the heart rate and also focused on these cadence skills that would promote efficiency and reduce impact when she returned to the road.”
Lifesport head coach Lance Watson has used water running extensively as injury rehab to help athletes get back to run fitness, and as injury prevention to supplement training for athletes who tend to break down with higher run mileage. Watson likes to alternate water running with quick, high knee drive to elevate heart rate, and with over-striding to stretch and engage the hamstrings and hip flexors. He also asks athletes to visualize their favourite run intervals.
An athlete rehabs running on an Alter-g treadmill for dialled-in impact levels