Friday, September 27, 2013

Injury Prevention in Running

1. Know your limits.

Increase mileage gradually.  Do not do too much too fast or too soon.
Try to increase one variable, either speed or distance at no more than 10% per week.  Don't try to increase both speed and distance at the same time.  When increasing speed use shorter interval work, with a rest period between each work interval.

2. Get Plenty of Rest.

Your body needs time to recover.  See our recent post Perform, Recover, Rebuild: How Perspective Changes for the 40+ Athlete (Whether or not you are 40+).  Incorporate rest days and active recovery days into you training calendar from the start.

Along with rest program some recovery or 'soft tissue' work.  Use a foam roller, get a massage, do yoga just
take care of yourself.  Don't just run.

Get enough sleep. Get a minimum of 7 hours, preferably a full  8 hours of sleep each night. Cardiovascular
performance can be compromised by up to 20 percent with sleep deprivation while reducing reaction time, the ability to process information and emotional stability.

3. Listen to Your Body.

If you are sore or feeling lethargic either take it easy on your scheduled run or take the day off.  Consider active recovery.  Swim or do yoga instead of continuing to pound the pavement. Most injuries don't come out of nowhere, they produce signals—aches, soreness, and persistent pain.  Don't ever run through pain...stop to run well another day.

If you feel any of the following, STOP:

  • Pain or discomfort while running
  • Pain at rest
  • Inability to sleep
  • Limping
  • Easily experiencing shortness of breath (exercise asthma)
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches during or after running
  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling any time

If you are fortunate enough to have a coach, stop and discuss with him. If you don't, think about running with a coach, athletic trainer, knowledgeable adult runner, or running organization.

4. Shorten your Stride.  

In a previous post Master Your Running Form we talked about the dangers of overstriding.  Overstriding is a common mistake that can lead to decreased efficiency and increased injury risk. If you shorten your stride, you'll land "softer" with each footfall, incurring lower impact forces.

5. Use Strength Training To Balance Your Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments

It is particularly important to strengthen the core and the hip muscles. When you strengthen the hips—the abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus—you increase your leg stability all the way down to your ankles
while also helping to prevent knee injuries.

Hamstrings, in particular due to sedentary careers, also tend to be tight and weak from sitting.  They need to be not only stretched but strengthened in their elongated position to avoid injury.

Stretch and Strengthen you Hamstrings and Glutes (After a workout)

Runners are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas, and therefore they should increase flexibility in these areas. The muscle groups at the back of the legs—the hamstrings and calf muscles

6. Prepare for your run properly 

Hydrate (drink water) well in advance
Warm up and/ for five minutes before beginning
Speed up slowly

7. If you are a Pronator (Or you have knee pain) See a Running Shoe Specialist

I will write more about pronation and supination in a future article.  For now refer here:

8. Utilize Interval Training
Proper interval training can improve VO2 and anaerobic threshold.  Intervals allow your body to adapt to and eventually race at greater speeds.  See our series on Optimizing Run Training.

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