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How to prevent injury when running

Runners get injured, but it is not because you are running it is the lack of commitment to the important things that support you running.

There are 2 main types of Injuries when it comes to running these are categorised as acute and chronic. Acute are those when you can pin point when it occurred (e.g. ankle sprain). Chronic Injuries are injuries that build up over time and are far more common with runners due to the repetitive nature of running.  This can potentially aggravate or worsen initial minor problems. The good news is that it is easier to predict and avoid chronic Injuries due to various studies putting in to use certain methods daily.

Below are some points to help you stay injury free and enjoy your running for many years to come.

1/ OVERLOAD AND THE 10 % RULE

Your body is great at adapting to stress if that stress is manageable. Things go wrong when it’s unable to cope with dramatic changes in mileage/intensity. A good way to build up is use the 10% rule, which means not to increase your weekly workload by more than 10%. The metric is simple when you look at distance, but the challenging part most of the time is when it comes to Intensity. This problem can be solved by using a smart watch or heart rate monitor and make sure there aren’t too many hard sessions in your program for e.g. hill sprints on multiple days.

2/ APPLY STRENGTH TRAINING TO SMALLER MUSCLES ALSO

Our bodies respond to load by making us stronger, and after your body adapts to a certain level of a specific load from running, your strength will plateau. When it comes to running based specifics, people tend to focus on strengthening prime moving muscles such as the gluteus and hamstrings first. This can be a problem as sometimes the accessory (smaller muscles) gets overlooked. A common one of these is the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle in the calf, not isolating and strengthening those muscles can lead to disaster with ankle injuries first.

3/ THE IMPORTANCE OF CADENCE AND STRIDE

Arm carriage and correct footfall are important for developing a precise running gait. The easiest way to improve your form is to focus on cadence (how many times your feet hit the floor in a minute). The correct cadence can vary by individual, most elite runners are hitting around 180, 170 and higher is ideal for optimal performance. Multiple studies have shown that a slight increase in cadence decreases the vertical loading rate and stress on the skeletal system and in particular the ankle knee and hip joints.  A quicker cadence or shorter stride generally leads a runner to hit midfoot compared to runners with longer strides. A longer stride causes a breaking effect that can slow you down and lead to injuries in particular knee and ankle. Ways of practising to increase your cadence is do some running drills on a track to find your baseline, increase it by 5% each time after that. Listen to certain music playlist where the beats per minute match your steps per minute. Use a treadmill and count your steps.

4/ STRETCH THE BACK OF YOUR LEGS

Runners generally are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas, and therefore they should increase flexibility in those areas. The muscles at the back of the legs, being hamstrings and calves are at the top of the list when it comes to running injuries. The reason why stretching these muscles before and after are important, is because greater hamstring and hip flexibility stabilizes the knee joint and promotes better function. Whilst stretching the claves will help keep the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia healthy to prevent things like shin splints or a torn Achilles tendon from doing sprint work.

OTHER THINGS TO ALSO CONSIDER

Improving your sleep, join a running group, focus on nutrition, strengthen your core muscles and have a realistic training plan.


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