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Be a Running Pro....Proprioceptor, That Is!

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I admit that I do harbor some guilt when I am on my daily runs. No, I don’t feel guilty because I just ate a jelly doughnut and am viciously trying to shave those calories off my hips before they even land there. I feel guilty in that when I run with friends, they frequently mention various body aches and pains that do not allow them to run as regularly as I do. I would be crushed if I could not fulfill my morning running obligations. (Does that word give the sense that I am addicted to it?)

As much running as I have done in the past several years, one would think that I would be a good candidate for a weak ankle, aching hips, sore joints, and bad knees. Alas, I barely sustain a blister. At the very least, I lost two toe nails after my last half-marathon. Okay. I am grateful. I will be an old lady one day, still running for pleasure and not from my creditors!

Perhaps I can credit my injury-free existence to a positive mind set…and to good proprioception. I know, I had never heard of the word until just a few weeks ago after browsing through one of my running magazines, but for the purposes of this article, I intend to sound like an expert. Bear with me!

As a runner, if you desire to get better and faster, you have to remain injury-free. Easier said than done. However, there is a way to achieve that goal, and all it requires is a few simple exercises to improve your proprioception.

Your proprioceptors are those friendly little sensors in your muscles that help you to maintain your balance. Obviously, for many people, they tend to go off-duty during periods of appreciable inebriation, but that’s another topic for another day. All of your muscles and tendons have these little guys, and when you are injured, they become damaged and don’t function at their optimum level. This can make running, especially on uneven surfaces, more challenging, leaving you at risk for injury.

These proprioceptors are responsible for informing your tendons and muscles to stop in their tracks when you are about to roll your ankle, for example. These little guys need to work overtime when you are running on uneven terrain or on slippery surfaces.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.