3 Tips to Stay Running and Prevent Running Injuries
As a Podiatrist and trail runner I have always been fascinated with why runners get injured.
An injury can cause a runner to miss out or harm their preparation for an upcoming event.
Interestingly up to 70% of runners are affected by injury each year with 42% of running injuries to the knee, 17% to the foot and ankle, 13% to lower leg and 11% to pelvis.
Fortunately many of these injuries are preventable, but how?
This article will outline the three most important things to focus on for you to prevent a running injury.
Check your Running Load?
This is the most important factor that contributes to a running related injury.
Total running load is made up of a number of different factors including:
Running related injuries are common however most are overuse injuries meaning that the load you are putting through your bones, joints and muscles is more than they can tolerate.
The current go to rule for increasing your training load is the 10% rule.
Meaning that you only increase your running volume by 10% each week compared to the average of the previous 4 weeks.
However, this only takes into account one aspect of your overall running load it doesnt incorporate intensity, speed, surface or footwear.
If you increase too many of these factors too quickly then you are at a high risk of a running related injury.
Variety of running surfaces and distances is a great way to prevent you from overloading.
Running on trails instead of roads is a good way to still get in your kms while putting stress on different areas of your body.
Mixing up your pace and distance from each run is also essential at reducing running injury risk.
Elite sports teams don't train at match intensity and pace every session so why would you do that each run?
Running shoes are an important component of load management as they are all designed with characteristics for different levels of support and cushioning.
To simplify it running shoes have different heel heights, different support on the inside or outside, different cushioning and different fit.
If you run in a way that puts you more at risk of certain running injuries than your shoe selection is vital to help reduce this risk.
Shoes need to be monitored for mileage as the lateral stiffness of a shoe decreases with wear.
Incorporate Strength and Conditioning!
Runners often neglect strength and conditioning in their training programs.
Strength training which targets the muscles used in running and how they are used including glutes, core, calves are essential to prevent deconditioning and overload of fatigued muscles.
If you are weak in a certain muscle or area of your body you will compensate by making the surrounding muscles having to work harder to support the weaker muscles.
Strength training may also improve running form and economy allowing to avoid fatigue for longer into your run.
Rest, Recovery and Rebuild!
Recovery is another aspect of training that is often forgotten.
Over training + poor recovery can lead to runners having low energy availability.
Sleep is time which allows your body to regenerate and recover from the days activities.
According to recent studies having less than 7 hours of sleep per night may increase your risk of running related injuries.
Another study found that post menopausal women who slept 5 hours or less per night had lower bone mineral density compared to ones who slept greater than 7 hours.
Adults secrete growth hormones during deep sleep and a lack of sleep alters your protein synthesis, immune system function, inflammation response and muscle recovery which can all increase running injury risk.
Its not just sleep though, nutrition is an important aspect of recovery.
A study found that male and female athletes with poor nutrition which lead to and absence of menstruation and low testosterone levels had low energy availability and were 4.5x more likely to develop bone stress injuries.
There are many more aspects to recovery that I haven't covered but I consider sleep and nutrition to be most important.
So how do I Prevent a Running Injury?
This list summarises the key things to remember to prevent a running injury
- Review your current training load
- Gradually increase your running load (no greater than 10%)
- Never do hard runs on fatigued muscles
- Start doing strength and conditioning
- Get more than 7 hours of sleep per night
- Review your diet
- Have a running assessment from your Podiatrist: they will assess your current load, running mechanics, footwear and provide you with a running program, strength and conditioning program
- Hydrate before a run
- Use Apps and watches to track your mileage and performance
- Look for the signs of low energy availability
- Training hard, but performance doesnt improve
- Easily injured
- Illness or infection
- Decreased muscle strength
- Altered menstrual cycle
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Low iron or anemia
If you need any further information about how to prevent running injuries or are having any foot or leg problems, just send us a message or you can book online & I'll be more than happy to explain how we can help.
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry