In an effort to recover from the back pain that has pushed me to near insanity and let serious injury be a thing of the past, I have been scouring the internet for information on what I need to do to lessen/eliminate the chance of getting this or any other injury again. I have come across several sites that I am confident will help me in achieving just that.

It was through Coach Jay Johnson’s  blog (which I have been completely enjoying) that I was re-introduced to the three planes of motion. I vaguely remember hearing about the planes of motion many years ago (probably in an eight grade science course), but never thought of them in relation to running.

In any event, the the three planes of motion are the sagittal plane, the frontal plane and the transverse plane. The sagittal plane cuts through the center of the body, slicing it in half vertically.

To make it easier to understand, examples include sit-ups, back extensions, biceps curls and yes, you guessed it, straight forward running –it is basically any motion that goes front to back. The frontal plane cuts through the body from left to right, dividing the body into front and back portions.

Specific examples of movements along the frontal plane include leaning from left to right like in sidebends, lateral leg raises, jumping jacks, hip abduction and side lunges. The frontal plane is all about abduction (movement away from the midline of the body) and adduction (movement toward the midline of the body).

The last plane (transverse) plane divides the top from the bottom. The main thing to remember with this plane is rotation. An example of a transverse plane exercise would be swinging a golf club, standing side twists and a backhand racquetball swing.

What is important about these planes is to know they exist and to make sure your training program includes exercises along each of them. Most of the exercises we are taught are on the sagittal plane, which leaves our abilities in the other two planes underdeveloped, making us susceptible to inefficient patterns of motion and therefore injury.

You might think that incorporating exercises in each of these planes will take a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to. 10 to 15 minutes is all you need. You can incorporate them in a pre-run warmup and post-run cool down (pretty cool idea huh?). Take for example this lunge matrix by coach Jay Johnson that loosens the hips and prepares you to run along each of these planes.

No matter where you are in your training, you can begin to incorporate work along each of these planes. Sure, it is best to begin this type of work possible a month to six weeks before you begin a running program to help to avoid injury, but if you are already running, work can be incorporated at a low level and built up from there. I highly recommend you check out coach Jay Johnson’s programs because they progress from easy to difficult as fitness gains are made.

Running is very much like building a house. If you don’t have a good foundation, your house will come crashing down. Imagine coming down with a major injury two weeks before your major marathon that could have been prevented had you spent 10 to 20 minutes minutes a day on general strength and mobility. Been there. Done that. Arrrrgggghhhhh!!!

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