5 simple ways to prevent running injuries.
You are passionate about running and you enjoy the runners high and the excitement running provides. But running provides stress on the body as some experts claim that running creates impact forces up to seven to eight times body weight. As a result, runners are susceptible to a variety of injuries such as stress fractures, runner’s knee, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome and more. Even with today’s technology, sports medicine and specialized gear, runners are not immune to common injuries. With a few simple strategies, you can decrease the risk for common running injuries while also improving overall performance.
Training plans are the authoritative source for runners. Week in and week out, runners follow their calendar to guide them on their runs and distance. However, some training plans are not designed properly, which can lead to overuse injuries.
Know your limits as every runner is different – some runners can handle 50+ or even 100+ miles per week, while other runners may have a threshold of 10-20 miles per week. Progress mileage, intensity and overall volume slowly when you are starting a training plan. Focus on a staircase progression with built-in periods of reduced volume and active recovery before increasing volume in the following weeks. A general rule of thumb is to increase overall mileage by no more than 5-10% per week.
Runners are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas. For example, the hamstrings and calf muscles – the muscles on the backside of the leg – are often considered the “best muscles for runners to stretch.” Focus on stretches that include major muscle groups and hold each stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing. Include yoga or a stretching class for guidance 2-3 sessions per week. Consistent daily stretching improves and maintains flexibility, which results in preventing injuries.
Incorporate stretches into your warm-up and cool-down before and after all runs, races and workouts. Dynamic stretches such as high knee drills, skipping, bounding, arm circles, leg swings and jumping jacks are excellent warm-up drills that also improve flexibility. Focus on static stretches for your cool-down after every workout.
Consistent daily stretching improves and maintains flexibility, which can prevent injuries.
Strength Training and Cross Training
Mix up your training program by incorporating strength training and cross training workouts. A primary benefit for injury prevention with strength training and cross training is to balance the body by training the muscles that may become weak or tights as a result from running.
Find a runner-specific training program to keep the body in good working order. For example, focus on core, back shoulder, glute and hip exercises. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and improve your aerobic fitness. Strength training not only reduces the potential for injuries, but it also improves a runner’s body strength and overall athleticism. Set a goal for including a strength training or cross training workout about 2-3 training sessions per week.
Recovery and Routine Maintenance
You are training hard and logging your miles but then life gets busy for anything extra. A common theme for most runners and the first thing to get eliminated is the need for recovery and routine maintenance on the body.
Every runner, regardless of age or ability level, has personalized “problem” areas that must be addressed to prevent future injuries. For example, runners may need extra care and attention on their feet, while the next runner may suffer from IT band issues. Find a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist or another specialist who will learn about your individual physiology and needs. Adding in routine maintenance with a massage, ART appointment or weekly foam roller sessions will drastically decrease the potential for injuries while keeping the body performing at a high level.Learn these simple tips to routine maintenance and recovery to stay running injury free. Click To Tweet
Running shoes come in a variety of models, shapes, colors and features. While they can be stylish and comfortable, if your running shoes don’t match your foot type or stride, they can actually be causing you injuries. There is no single best shoe for any runner, but certain shoes will fit runners differently. Consult your local running store for a customized evaluation of your foot and stride. They match your individual needs to the best shoes built specifically for you.