After injuring yourself it can be difficult to know what to do. Do you use, ice or heat? Rest or movement? Elevation or massage? The asnwers to these questions are found in the type of injury that you have sustained.
An acute injury is an injury with a sudden onset, usually as a result of some sort of impact or trauma, such as a fall, sprain or collision. Acute injuries are sudden and sharp, occur immediately (or within hours) and cause pain (possibly severe pain). With this form of injury, two acronyms are extremely valuable to remember: RICE and HARM.
The RICE acronym is one that should be followed as the four factors help to reduce swelling and inflammation that is likely to occur within the first stages of healing for an acute injury. RICE stands for:
In contrast, the HARM acronym provides four factors that should be avoided with acute injuries, and stands for:
HARM is extremely important to remember within the initial 48 hours following an acute injury because both heat and alcohol cause the blood vessels to dilate (open up) – this increases the bleeding in the injured area. Exercising the body part or massaging the area also has the same impact and can be detrimental to the healing process.
Differing to acute injuries, chronic injuries can be subtle and may emerge slowly, with no known factor that triggered it. Chronic injuries may come and go, and may cause dull pain or soreness. Long standing low back pain is a classic example of a chronic injury, and often results from overuse and repetitive movements. However, if an acute injury is not effectively treated, it may lead to a chronic problem.
Heat therapy is frequently used for chronic injuries or injuries that have no inflammation or swelling – such as nagging muscle or joint pain. Using a heat pad, or getting into a warm bath can help to increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and stimulate blood flow, which can consequently aid pain relief. Whilst this is often a temporary solution, it can provide relief nonetheless.
Prodced by JB Physio and re-produced with permissions via twitter
So many peolpe are training and runing over the winter, and thats a great away to get fit or die trying. But to help keep those unwanted injuries at bay, try these exercises. These exercises help prevent leg injury’s in so many sports and activities, not to mention keeping your posterior nice and perky.
So knowing how competitive runners can be, I thought I’d give the insiders tips on how to get ahead and stay ahead in your marathon preparation training.
Having done some further research, I had a good chat with Max Dillon who runs for Milton Keynes Running Club in triathlon’s, half marathons, marathons and 35/40/50 mile fell runs. Now, Max has vast experience for his age in running and he knows when and how to train. Having completed half marathons in sub – 1hr 20 minutes, training and staying fit is necessary to get the best results.
This article will look at Max’s advice for training and recovery as well as injury prevention:
Thinking about doing a marathon can be daunting but once you start the training, it becomes addictive. The issue being that many runners DON’T:
1) build the training gradually
2) allow enough COMPLETE rest days
3) or train hard enough when needed.
The advice and experience given by Max could be invaluable to make your training and performance more finely tuned, and help you get ahead of the competition:
Training should built from the ground up, gradually increasing the running miles.
Speed work needs to be hard and fast, this is advised by elite Ethiopian runners.
Long runs should be gentle and more enjoyable, these are about building endurance not speed.
Rest days are key for injury prevention. Complete rest is required. Consider that daily activities are NOT rest, and try to completely rest to avoid fatigue or overtraining.
Ice baths can help recovery after long runs. Evidence for this post-training is inconclusive BUT some runners believe it helps recovery. 10 minutes in an ice bath is good enough for Jessica Ennis, its good enough for you.
Compression Leggings can assist with venous blood flow post training to aid recovery. I.e Wear them to bed, that’s Max’s advice not mine. Keep the lower extremity blood flow and warm to the legs can assist with recovery. Again evidence is limited with these leggings, but give it a whirl!
To avoid common running injuries, try Sport Tape. its great for reducing overactive and control muscle fatigue especially something like Shin Splints.
When hill running, this requires vast amounts of eccentric quadricep control, especially running down hill. Do some eccentric quads loading exercises in the gym and build it gradually.
Day before the race, do a 20 min very light jog or strides to shake everything out. this is make sure your ready for race day and have no lethargy.
Active recovery post race is key, NO RUNNING, light swimming or gentle spin bike session will aid with muscular movement and quicker recovery.
A lot of this advice is individual to each runner but if you don’t try them, they you’ll never know if they can help.
A few common running injuries occur when first training, so these can be prevented by early assessment, early intervention, early return to sport. The commonest are Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Hip and Proximal Weakness, and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. TA Physio can assist with all these problems to enable you to continue running.
Let me know how it goes, if you have any questions for TA Physio or Max Dillon, then add them in the comments box below.
So, its the time of year where everyone ramps up their training for the marathon season. Needless to say, the level of experience amongst runners varies widely. So this is a short guide for marathon training so you make it over the 26mile mark…..
….according to The Virgin London Marathon website, the following tips are noted:
10 Marathon Training Tips
1. Training Plan and Rest
Training for a single event such as the marathon can involve several phases of different types of running. Just as each week is comprised of different workouts, each phase is also somewhat different. A common fault to marathon training is not planning adequate rest. Many runners train too hard when they should be recovering from workouts, thereby not allowing for good quality training later in the training phase. Physical training stresses the body, and during recovery it adapts. Without rest and recovery, there can be no adaptation. The definition of rest is different for every runner. For the highly trained, it may be simply 30 minutes of easy running. For others, it may be a day completely off from training. All athletes need a day of complete rest (zero or very little exercise) regularly. This may be every week, ten days, or every two weeks. Nevertheless, it should be programmed into a training plan and adhered to. This allows the athlete to recover completely from workouts, and to train hard when it is time to train hard.
2. Weekly Mileage
Almost every runner gauges his or her training by weekly mileage. It’s useful for getting an idea of the volume of training, but too many runners feel it is the only measuring stick. How much one is training is a combination of volume and intensity. Don’t get hung up on logging a set number of weekly miles. If a day or two of training is missed due to injury or illness or other reason, don’t try to cram two days of training into one. Just pick-up the program and continue. Lost days are simply lost.
3. Marathon Tempo Running
One of the most important factors in marathon training is tempo running, which is defined as + 10 seconds per mile from your projected marathon pace. If you’re planning on running 26.2 miles at 7:00 per mile, then do lots of training at or near this pace. This is one of the major differences between elite runners’ marathon training and others training for the event. Most runners or joggers are simply trying to finish the event in halfway decent condition. Elite runners are essentially “racing” the event. That is, they will attempt to run 26.2 miles at a pace faster than their everyday run pace. Nearly everyone else is running marathons slower than their everyday pace. Marathon race pace for elite runners is at an interesting point, physiologically speaking. Many terms are used to describe this level, such as “threshold” and “capacity.” They all describe the same thing. Marathon pace usually uses most of the capacity of the aerobic energy system and very little of the anaerobic energy systems. Traditional road race and track training tends to ignore this marathon pace. Most training is done well above or below it. But the marathon is a unique event, and one of the limiting factors to performance is fuel economy, and training at projected marathon tempo trains your body to use fuel (specifically carbohydrate) efficiently.
4. Simulate Race Conditions In Training
To a large degree, simulate race conditions as much as possible during training. Don’t go out and race a marathon daily, but every facet of the race needs to be practiced. This training program includes tempo running toward the end of long runs, allowing your body to maintain your marathon race pace beyond 20 miles. Runners should also practice water stops and drinking large volumes of water and/or carbohydrate solutions during training. If you are training for a marathon such as Boston, then some downhill running needs to be incorporated. Try to train at the time of the day the race starts and in the predicted weather conditions as much as possible. Do a “dress rehearsal” several weeks prior to the event in a race or long run. This is the time to try out all racing clothing, shoes, socks, and pre-race meals. You want to do this far enough in advance to allow for changes to take place – and your blisters to heal.
5. Train the Long Runs
The long training runs of over 18 miles are the most important workouts in any training program. Every coach has a different philosophy on the long runs. Every week for 16 weeks is not required. Vary the long runs, mixing in some marathon tempo running. Much of a long training run is generally done at 30-45 seconds per mile slower than projected marathon race pace. Depending upon what training was completed in the previous few days, it may even be as slow as 1:30 per mile slower than projected race pace. Many runners get caught up in trying to run too much of a long run too hard. All too often, someone has a great workout of 18 miles at marathon pace three weeks before the main event, only to have a poor result.
6. Train and Compete with a Group
Running with a group is one of the most effective things an athlete can do to help his or her training. Everyone has a day when they are sluggish and needs the encouragement of a friend during a workout. At some point in time you will likely repay the favor by helping out that friend. Team running is great race strategy, but be careful that the group does not get too competitive and all of a sudden is racing the workout. Sometimes it is essential to select a person who is a good judge of pace and effort to control the tempo of a run, especially a long run. Don’t race the workouts.
7. Planned Racing
“How much” and “which” preparatory races are important questions. Much depends on the particular marathon and race schedule. It is easy to race too much leading to a major marathon. Since races typically fall on weekends, it usually means missing a long run or trying to do a long run the day after a race (generally not a good idea). Some runners like to do a couple of long races as long tempo runs a month or so prior to a targeted marathon. It is a good idea if you can go to a race and run at marathon pace. Be warned, however, most marathoners can’t do this; they are simply too competitive and run too hard. A limited number of races within a marathon training program (perhaps three over a 12 week period) to assess the progress of a program is sufficient.
8. Strides, Drills, and Stretching
This is another component that can make a big difference on race day. Doing a complete set of strides, 6-8 x 100-meter efforts at mile race pace (not sprints), two to three times per week is enough to maintain leg turnover by stimulating certain neural pathways and fast-twitch muscle fibers. And some days it just makes your legs feel better. Drills focus on a small aspect of the running stride and exaggerate it. Drills always pay off in the latter miles of the marathon when the major muscles are failing and the accessory muscles are called upon to help maintain running form. A brief stretching session done regularly will help improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury. (The debate of whether to stretch before or after running is hotly contested, so try both and see what works for you.) The total routine need not last for more than 15 minutes. Muscle groups to stretch include the quads, hamstrings, Achilles tendons, calves, back, and the upper body. Stretch according to need, depending on soreness, tightness or the upcoming workout. Some tips for stretching are: warm-up for at least 5 minutes with light jogging; perform stretches in a controlled and smooth manner; hold each stretch for at least 15-25 seconds; and, don’t strain, bounce or force a stretch.
9. Be Flexible with Your Workouts
Training for a marathon can take its toll on the body, and so set your self realistic training targets. Pushing through without consideration for the body can lead to over training. So be flexible and if you dont hit your target for that session, then dont worry. You’ll get it next time.
10. Listen to Your Body
Pay close attention to what your body tells you. Listen to yourself honestly. If you’ve been fatigued for several days in a row, then you may need to schedule in some rest and recovery time. Persistent foot pain for several weeks usually doesn’t just go away. Usually, it gets worse. It is always better to deal with these types of problems as early as possible, rather than wait until they grow into something serious – check out my blog posting on common running injuries
Just sat here thinking about work during my time off and what I realised is how many of my clients are hyperlax, hypermobile or have hypermobility syndrome. Shockingly, 90% of these clients are not aware of this underlying condition and have never had it diagnosed by a fellow healthcare professional.
This article is to highlight how to assess and diagnose hypermobility during clinical assessments. There is a significant need for more awareness of these conditions, for the patient to understand their body and for clinicians to factor this into their rehab.
What is the Hypermobility Syndrome?
Connective tissue proteins such as collagen give the body its intrinsic toughness. When they are differently formed, the results are mainly felt in the “moving parts” – the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments – which are laxer and more fragile than is the case for most people. The result is joint laxity with hypermobility and with it comes vulnerability to the effects of injury.
The Hypermobility Syndrome is said to exist when symptoms are produced, a state of affairs that may affect only a minority of hypermobile people. It is probably more correct to refer to Hypermobility Syndromes (in the plural) as a family of related genetically-based conditions which differ not only in the particular protein affected, but also in the degree of difference of formation. Thus at one end of the spectrum are the diseases with the potentially serious complications such as Marfan Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Vascular Type (formally EDS IV). At the other end are what is now called on good evidence Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS) and Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobile Type (formerly EDS III), which may be one and the same
Hypermobility or Hypermobility Symdrome?
Hypermobility and hypermobility sydrome (HMS) can be diagnosed by a set of tests called the Beighton Score, and then tested against the criteria for HMS which is called the Brighton Score:
The Beighton modification of the Carter & Wilkinson scoring system has been used for many years as an indicator of widesparead hypermobility. A high Beighton score by itself does not mean that an individual has HMS. It simply means that the individual has widespread hypermobility. Diagnosis of Hypermobility Syndrome or HMS should be made using the Brighton Criteria.
The Beighton score is calculated as follows:
Score one point if you can bend and place you hands flat on the floor without bending you knees.
Score one point for each knee that will bend backwards.
Score one point for each elbow that will bend backwards.
Score one point for each thumb that will bend backwards to touch the forearm.
Score one point for each hand when you can bend the little finger back beyond 90°.
If you are able to perform all of above manouevres then you have a maximum score of 9 points.
An important landmark was passed in July 2000 with the publication in the Journal of Rheumatology (2000; 27: 1777-1779) of the Brighton Diagnostic criteria for the Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS).
The actual criteria have been reproduced (as published) below.
A Beighton score of 4/9 or greater (either currently or historically)
Arthralgia for longer than 3 months in 4 or more joints
A Beighton score of 1, 2 or 3/9 (0, 1, 2 or 3 if aged 50+)
Arthralgia (> 3 months) in one to three joints or back pain (> 3 months), spondylosis, spondylolysis/spondylolisthesis.
Dislocation/subluxation in more than one joint, or in one joint on more than one occasion.
Eye signs: drooping eyelids or myopia or antimongoloid slant.
Varicose veins or hernia or uterine/rectal prolapse.
The BJHS is diagnosed in the presence two major criteria, or one major and two minor criteria, or four minor criteria. Two minor criteria will suffice where there is an unequivocally affected first-degree relative.
BJHS is excluded by presence of Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (other than the EDS Hypermobility type (formerly EDS III) as defined by the Ghent 1996 (8) and the Villefranche 1998 (9) criteria respectively). Criteria Major 1 and Minor 1 are mutually exclusive as are Major 2 and Minor 2.
The Subjective Give Away.
During your subjective assessment you should look for comments made by clients about their flexibility.
Clients may report that they feel a disconnection to their movements whilst partaking in sport. They may report numerous episodes of tripping for no reason, theymay alos report a long history of ankle problems. Ankle instability is well documented in HM and HMS sufferers as they have the flexibility in the ankle ligaments for them to stretch wihtou causing damage.
It is also well documented that dancers have exceptional flexibility, and most commonly ballet dancers, so their past times or activiteis may include dancing.
Such comments as, ‘I’ve always been very flexible’, ‘I’ve sprained my ankle loads of times’, ‘I used to do a lot of dancing’ are a sign for you to investigate further.
Start with the Beighton Score and then consider the Brighton Score is you suspect more. Always provide as much information to clients about HM or HMS, if you are unsure then direct them to a good source of information. The website below is excellent.
London 2012 Olympic Physio,England Rugby Football Union Physiotherapist, Guest lecturer MSc Manual Therapy, Coventry University, MACP Clinical mentor, Lead Physio Coventry University Sports Centre, Experienced researcher, clinician and educator
Eccentric training is a form of training in which the muscle is worked as it lengthens. In contrast, concentric training involves a muscle working as it shortens. A good example of these can be observed within a bicep curl – as the elbow bends the biceps work concentrically and the muscles shorten as they work. However, as the elbow then straightens the bicep muscles are lengthening, but they continue to contract and work as they control the movement.
It has been found that the faster a muscle contracts concentrically (shortening), the lower the tension it is able to generate (1). Tension in muscle fibres when lengthening (eccentric) is considerably greater than when muscle fibres are shortening (2).
Previous studies have shown that when a muscle is eccentrically lengthened, the energy requirement falls substantially in comparison to concentric contractions because ATP breakdown and heat production are both slowed (2). Furthermore, with increased heat generation during concentric work, there is a concurrent increase in cellular metabolism. Thus, more waste products will be generated with concentric work, potentially leading to chemical irritation of nerves and eventually pain (6).
Tendons are the extremities of a muscle that attaches to bone and injury to tendons can occur from sudden trauma, overuse or repetitive strain. Tendon injuries account for 30-50% of injuries in sports (4). Specifically, chronic problems caused by overuse of tendons result in 30% of all running-related injuries, and elbow tendon injuries can be as high as 40% in tennis players (8). Incidence of patellar tendonopathy is reported to be as high as 32% and 45% in basketball and volleyball players, respectively (5). It is therefore important to quickly diagnose and treat such injuries with physiotherapy.
Eccentric training for tendinopathies
The Alfredson et al (1) protocol has frequently been used since its production in 1998 and appears to be a safe, effective method of implementing the eccentric training program for tendinopathies. However, this protocol was produced for and used in the treatment of achilles tendinopathies and their exact recommendations may not be appropriate for all tendons or regions.
The Alfredson protocol used three sets of 15 repetitions of bent knee and straight knee calf raises, twice a day, seven days per week over 12 weeks. Athletes were told to work through pain, only ceasing exercise if pain became disabling. Training load was increased in 5 kg increments with use of a backpack that allowed for the addition of the weight once training with bodyweight was pain free. The eccentric phase of the exercise should be performed relatively slowly, counting to 3-4 seconds as you complete the movement. The concentric phase should be avoided and the other limb can return you to the starting position of the exercise.
All of the subjects within the initial study (1) who used this protocol, returned to pre-injury activity levels and found a significant decrease in pain with a significant increase in strength.
According to Lorenz & Reiman (6), the physiotherapist may use the Alfredson protocol for an example of volume and frequency of training, but addition of weights and resistance should be dictated by the amount of pain experienced by the individual, and the exercises should be dictated by a physiotherapist to ensure correct technique and suitability of exercises.
Curwin (3) has also proposed a method to determine training load in eccentric training for tendon injuries. One significant difference between Curwin’s and Alfredson’s programs is that the athlete performs both the concentric and eccentric portion of the exercise in Curwin’s program, with the eccentric portion being performed faster. In Curwin’s protocol, they suggest that the athlete should experience pain and fatigue between 20 and 30 repetitions at a given load, when performing three sets of 10 repetitions.
Their rationale for experiencing pain is based on the premise that exercise load should be determined by the tendon tolerance, which is indicated by pain experienced during the exercise. If there is no pain after 30 repetitions, the stimulus is inadequate. Either load or the speed of exercise performance should be increased, but not both simultaneously.
Based on the clinical experience of the authors and others (7), it is recommended that 6-12 repetitions over four sets be completed to emphasize strength in the muscle-tendon complex. The athletes use the load from the six repetition resistance and build up to twelve repetitions prior to increasing load again. This process helps to maintain safe and progressive eccentric training. Additionally, the authors advocate three to four sessions per week instead of every day.
Lorenz & Reiman (6) suggest that the physiotherapist or athlete do not perform the concentric portion of the exercise or perform it with the assistance of the uninvolved limb, followed by having the athlete perform the eccentric portion of the exercise independently. Based on clinical experience, the concentric portion of the exercise can be attempted without assistance once non-sport/day-to-day activities, like walking, stair climbing and washing, are pain free.
As with eccentric exercise, progression of the concentric portion of exercise should involve a gradual increase. Once the concentric portion of exercise is pain free, the athletes can begin jogging or more sport specific activities.
1. Alfredson H, Pietila T, Jonsson P, & Lorentzon R. (1998) Heavy-load eccentric calf muscle training for treatment of chronic Achilles tendinosis. Am J Sports Med. 26: 360-366.
2. Curtin N A & Davies R E. (1970) Chemical and mechanical changes during stretching of activated frog muscle. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 37: 619-626.
3. Curwin S L. (1996) Tendon injuries: Pathophysiology and treatment. In: Athletic Injuries and Rehabilitation. J Zachazewski, DJ Magee, WS Quillen, ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co. 27-54.
4. Khan K M & Scott A. (2009) Mechanotherapy: how physical therapists’ prescription of exercise promotes tissue repair. Br J Sports Med. 43: 247-251.
5. Lian O B, Engebretsen L & Bahr R. (2005) Prevalence of jumper’s knee among elite athletes from different sports: a cross-sectional study. Am J Sports Med. 33: 561-567.
6.Lorenz D & Reiman M. (2011) The role and implementation of eccentric training in athletic rehabilitation: Tendinopathy, hamstring strains, and acl reconstruction. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 6(1): 27-44.
7. Ratamess N A, Alvar B A, Evetoch T K, et al. (2009) Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults: ACSM Position Stand. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 41(3): 687-708.
8 Sharma P & Maffulli N. (2006) Biology of tendon injury: healing, modeling, and remodeling. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 6: 181-190.
As all sports men know, securing your crown jewels whilst partaking in your sport of choice is important. I’ve come across a novel way of doing this and thought I’d share it with you. Have you heard of BOXJOX? If not, don’t be ashamed.
BoxJox is a compression base layer and a state of the art update on the athletic support. It wraps around the waist and through the legs creating a unified 3D structure providing both support and stability for the genitals. Engineered to use the stretch base material that flexes and moves with you in contrast to the support bands which remain controlled.
I trialled mine for the past two weeks whilst cycling to work and attending the gymnasiums, and to my surprise, they are noticeably more comfortable than ordinary sports pants or cycling shorts.
Having contacted the team at BOXJOX, I’m reliably informed that the future holds a nice variety of sports under garments for differing sports.
Yet again Usain Bolt confidently brushed aside the worlds best in the Olympic 100m final. Are there any limits to his success? Not only did he run faster then Beijing, he also beat a field including Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, & Asafa Powell.
Numerically, this is how he did it:
Reaction Time: 0.165sec
Winning Time: 9.63sec
0.06sec faster than Beijing
41 steps for Bolt to complete the race
Reaction Time: 0.179sec
Winning Time: sec
46 steps for Bolt to complete the race
The real burning question is, can Bolt hold his title in Rio 2016? or will his powers be deminished? Only time will tell.
As with any methodology, the theory has to be understood first and then practice:
Raise your ankle straight up under your hip, using the hamstrings
Keep your support time short
Your support is always on the balls of your feet
Do not touch the ground with your heels
Avoid shifting weight over your toes: raise your ankle when the weight is on the ball of your foot
Keep your ankle fixed at the same angle
Keep knees bent at all times
Feet remain behind the vertical line going through your knees
Keep stride length short
Keep knees and thighs down, close together, and relaxed
Always focus on pulling the foot from the ground, not on landing
Do not point or land on the toes (see Fig 3: Toe running)
Gravity, not muscle action, controls the landing of the legs
Keep shoulder, hip and ankle in vertical alignment
Arm movement is for balance, not for force production
Pose drills to get the skills:
A transition to pose running style should not be taken lightly, you should practise the drills (building up the level of difficulty) once or twice daily, three sets of 10 to 15 reps per drill. Drills should be practised for at least a week before attempting to run in pose, and should be performed before a run.
All drills should be performed barefoot for added awareness of the movements, on a forgiving surface such as grass or a running track. The drills fall into three sections:
Basic drills to reinforce the pose position, the use of the hamstring in pulling the foot from the ground and the feeling of falling forward under the effect of gravity (drills 1-7);
Intermediate drills to reinforce these feelings (drills 8 and 9);
Advanced drills to aid speed, balance, strength and reflexiveness none shown here).
Drill 1 (Fig 4 below): Pose stance
This to be practised as a static pose, held for up to 30 seconds. It requires good postural control; no support is allowed. The idea is to challenge the mechanoreceptors in the joints and soft tissues to provide feedback to the brain regarding joint position and muscle tone.
It is the basic position to hold and to practise balance
The use of a mirror is recommended
Shoulder, hip and ankle should always be vertically aligned
Point of contact with the ground is always the midfoot
Hip is always held over the support point, which is the midfoot.
Drill 2: Change of support without moving
Shift centre of gravity sideways from one leg to the other, maintaining support on the midfoot
You must feel the weight shift from one leg to the other before pulling up
It is important to feel the weight shift and then the acceleration of this movement by the pulling-up of the hamstring
Pull the ankle up vertically under the hip using the hamstring only, not hip flexors or quadriceps
Allow the leg to drop to the ground – do not drive it down
Mental focus is on the pulling-up action, not the leg drop.
Drill 3 (Fig 5 below): Pony
This practises changing support using minimum effort and minimal range of movement
Simultaneously lift the ankle of the support leg while allowing your body weight to shift to the other leg
Use only the hamstring.
Keep in mind your support point on the midfoot (toes will also be in contact).
Drill 4 (Fig 6 below): Forward change of support
This puts the pony into action; practise slowly at first
Lean slightly forward and simultaneously pull the ankle up under the hip using the hamstring and allow the non-support leg to drop to the ground under the force of gravity
Make sure the weight transfer is effortless and that the foot is allowed to fall.
Drill 5 (Fig 7 below): Foot tapping
Single-leg drill, 10-15 taps per set
This emphasises the vertical leg action and use of hamstrings rather than driving the knees up and forward using your hip flexors and quads
It prevents your foot from being too far out in front of the body, which would cause you to land on your heel and create a braking action
Aim for rapid firing of the hamstring, lifting the foot from the ground as soon as it touches down
You must feel the muscles fire and then relax. Avoid a forceful pull all the way up. If you are doing it correctly the lower leg will decelerate after the initial firing and accelerate as gravity returns it to the ground.
Drill 6 (Fig 8 below): Hopping
This movement progresses the tapping drill. The momentum for the hopping support leg should come from the hamstring action on the non-hopping leg. Take care: this is an advanced movement which will place unhealthy stress on structures such as the Achilles/calf muscles if not performed correctly.
Start by pulling up the nonhopping leg with your hamstring and use the reaction force of the ground to aid this recoil effect
Do not push with the calf but just lift the ankle with the hamstring and make sure the ankle is relaxed between hops.
Drill 7: Front lunge
Single-leg drill which increases the range of movement of the hopping drill
This truly forces you to isolate the hamstring muscles
Practise initially on the spot until you are stable enough to allow forward movement
Keep weight on front leg; the back leg drags behind
Pull ankle vertically up under the hip, using the hamstring
Keep contact time with the ground as short as possible
Allow rear leg to follow loosely
Remember to land on the ball of your foot
Forward movement is created not by pushing off but by leaning forward from the hips. You drag the rear leg behind you for balance.
Drill 8 (Fig 9 below): Switch
Both ankles are being picked up
This time you are picking the rear leg up as well with the hamstring
Transfer weight from one leg to the other as you alternate support
Keep contact time with the ground to a minimum, only as necessary to change support
Keep heels off the ground and land on the balls of your feet
Always think of the pose stance: good vertical alignment of shoulder, hip and foot.
Drill 9: Running lunge
This is pose running, but with a deliberate emphasis on the speed of the hamstring pull-up
The aim is to teach the working leg to react as quickly as possible, minimising support time on the ground
The runner pulls the heel up vertically from the ground but allows it to fall easily to the ground.