Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry

Over the course of a year I read quite a few books on a range of issues. Some are related to my day job and would be of little interest to many of those who have found this post. Those that are related to my triathlon obsession will get streaky in the topics I choose. Sometimes I read a lot on cycling, or injury prevention, or diet, or whatever I have on my mind for a period of time. At other times I just go randomly from subject to subject. Lately my reading has been more diverse.

Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS is a book about running that is about more than just running. What you won't find here are training plans or how to reach your marathon goals in 16 weeks. Instead what you get is a book that the runner or triathlete can use to avoid being a part of the 75% of us who get sidelined with an injury each year. Anatomy for Runners is the book you can use to keep you out there running on a consistent basis.

The author states very clearly that the "book's aim is to reveal how the musculoskeletal system responds to running and how to optimize this relationship." He does this by taking you through the real basics of running - physics, anatomy, mobility, biomechanics, footwear and the runner's gait. While you could skip along and just go to the assessment and corrective exercises, having an understanding of what could be wrong (and figuring out what is more correct for your body) is an important step for long-term success.

After getting through the background information, Chapter 9 (Assessment) is where you start to find out what might need to be corrected. There are ten tests - 5 focused on mobility, 5 dealing with stability. Dicharry believes the best time to take these tests is, in his own words, "Now!"

If you are suffering from injury or not, he believes it is important to figure out what underlying issues you may have and correct them asap. Because "if you fix the factors driving your problem, you not only help your current problem, you also decrease your chances of getting another injury related to the same cause. Imbalances that take our body away from the norm cause problems, and these problems are usually present well before you have pain." With each test you get some suggestions on how you can improve what is being tested.

In Chapter 10 (Corrective Exercises) you get the exercises needed to fix your underlying issues. For each exercise you get a picture or to as well as an explanation of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Very easy to understand.

I took myself through the tests and found an interesting little connection to an ongoing thing I have had going on with (I thought) my hips. Really what has been an issue appears to resonate from my glutes, and can be fixed in about 2-3 minutes per day. To simply integrate it into my life I do my have two exercises with my normal warm up routine. Since I don't miss my warm ups I don't miss my prehab exercises.

Who Should Read Anatomy for Runners?

Everyone who runs and doesn't want to get hurt doing it. This book is written for everyone from the beginner training for her first 5k or the grizzled veteran going for Boston Marathon number 10. The novice triathlete or the Ironman world champion will be able to utilize the information presented.

Running is simple yet it can be so destructive to the human body. The most effective way to get faster is to train consistently combining long runs, tempo efforts and speed work. But consistency is the key. If you get hurt, even just a "nick" or a "little niggle," you will interrupt your training plan. Taking some time out to read a book, take a few simple tests and then do a few basic exercises on a regular basis seems worth it to me. It should for you as well.

I know more than a few bicycle enthusiasts who started off as runners or triathletes who eventually either wore something out due to poor biomechanics or got tired of getting injured all the time. Running should be enjoyable. When you are constantly coming back or running hurt the fun just goes right out the window. If this sounds like you, or feel that it cold be you someday, pick up a copy of Anatomy for Runners.

Bottom line: I recommend this book to anyone who runs and wants to continue to run for a long, long time.

Thanks for reading.

Train hard. Stay focused.

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