The popularity of running is increasing, especially among those looking to improve their fitness or lose weight. Although running is a time-efficient method, it is also highly injury prone. It is estimated that around 65% of runners will have at least one injury during the first year of running. Common injuries are runner’s knee, Achilles tendon and foot injuries. To reduce the risk of injury during running, follow these proven techniques used by professional runners and advocated by sports medicine professionals.
The most common risk of injury is sudden increase in mileage during the first few months of training. It is important to give time for your body to adapt to the increased stress of running, especially if you are running on hard surfaces. There are plenty of websites which give detailed weekly programmes to increase your running time. One of my favourites is the free NHS couch to 5k podcast series and it comes with good music, too! (available on itunes).
Warming up increases blood flow to boost oxygen and fuel supply to your muscles. It is the best way to prime your muscles and to lubricate synovial fluid into your joints. Warm up with dynamic movements such as jumping jacks, heel flicks and high knee raises. Studies have shown that dynamic movements are more efficient to prevent injury than static stretches.
Strength equals stamina
Although running is classified as a pure endurance event, modern athletes appreciate the importance of maintaining the strength of the leg muscles. It is important to spend at least once a week on body weight exercises to improve your leg strength and propulsion force while running. Some effective leg exercises are squats, lunges, step – ups and heel raises.
Don’t forget your hamstrings and calves
Repeated running can lead to tight hamstrings and calves. A tight hamstring can lead to back strain and a tight calf can lead to knee injury due to the lack of mobility in the joints. Regular use of foam roller can help to reduce the tight knots in the muscle and can be used as part of the cool-down. (Assume you will have links for all of these?)
Rest smart : Time for recovery
It is important to cycle in a recovery week as part of your training. To reduce risk of overuse injuries, it would be beneficial to take a one week break from regular running every 6 – 8 weeks ( depending on the intensity of your training), to rejuvenate your body, muscle and stress hormones. This will enable your body to recover, avoid overtraining and come back harder and with bigger performance gains.
The body is an amazing machine but it is not indestructible. Many runners have had their training regime derailed through overdoing it or by faulty technique. By following these proven methods, you can reduce your injury risk while enjoying the health and fitness benefits of running.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article then sign up for my newsletter to receive the 3 Free Bonuses (Injury Prevention Workout for Runners, Dynamic Core Stability, Top 5 Plank Variations) as well as to keep up to date with latest research and fitness trends.