Help for Bow-Legged Runners

Written by + on February 6, 2013

Bowlegged runners face a challenge that no runner wants to face — chronic leg pain. Still, there are people who choose to brave the pain and continue running as their form of exercise. For those looking for a manageable way to correct or alleviate some of the stress bowlegged running puts on their joints, here are a few tips to consider.

Determine severity

As bowleggedness is a problem you can see, you probably already know if you have it. If you are uncertain, you could have a friend watch your running stride or watch it in front of a mirror. Minor bowing is not uncommon and could be managed on your own, but severe bowing of the legs is not. See a doctor to check the alignment of your legs and determine your situation.

Corrective measures

Slightly bowlegged runners have a few options when it comes to their workout. Running is a high-impact exercise; to lessen the pain and reduce the impact on your body, slow down. Also, avoid running on banked surfaces as this will only worsen the bow in your legs. Running bowlegged puts stress on your iliotibial—or IT— band. To avoid this problem, you can do exercises to strengthen your core and hips. If you are in pain, doing an ice massage after a run will soothe your aching legs.

Stretch and strengthen

With bowleggedness, your inner thighs and glute muscles are weakened. Doing reps on an adductor machine will target and strengthen these areas. If you don’t have access to one of these machines, do leg lifts. Lie on your right side with your head on your palm. Bend your left leg and put your left foot flat on the floor in front of your right leg. Lift your right leg slowly about three inches off the ground and then lower. Continue to do this until it burns and then try it on your left. This exercise may be difficult due to extreme weakness in your legs, so go slowly the first time.

While the inner thighs are weak, your outer thighs will be tight. You can stand with your right foot in front of your left and bend down and to the right to stretch out the muscle—switch your feet and lean to the left to work the other side. For another stretch, lie on the floor with your arms straight out. Lift your right leg, bending it to a 90-degree angle. Rotate your torso and pull your bent leg towards the floor with your left hand to feel the stretch.

Consult your doctor

Fixing a bowlegged problem can sometimes be as easy as buying the right running shoes and doing a little extra stretching. Regardless of whether you feel you can solve the issue on your own, consulting a doctor is always recommended. A medical professional can provide you with a proper evaluation to correct your problem and advise you on exercises that won’t hurt you in the future.

Running with bow legs is possible, but not to be done without preparation. Strengthening your body in the right ways and preparing your feet with the proper shoes will give yourself the best chance at a successful run. You don’t want to have trouble moving when you are older, so take the proper preventitive steps today.

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