I was reading some articles in ‘Runner’s World’ online back when I was injured with my femoral stress fracture- because that’s how pathetic I am: reading about running, weeping at the computer, when I can’t actually do it!
It’s some really great info to prep myself up and educate myself on injury prevention in the future, and other things running-related, to make sure I can be fit and healthy and stick with the love of my life (aka running) forever! 😀
*cue soppy love song, possibly ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston.’*
The article ‘The 10 Laws of Injury Prevention’ jumped out at me, and I knew it was something I should probably read, as an injury-prone runner (SIGH…)
Here they are:
1. Know Your Limits.
Basically, know how far you’re able to run without hurting yourself. What’s your perfect amount of kilometres a week? It could be 50 for someone else, but then again, it could be somewhere around 20 for you.
To discover it, you really just have to increase your mileage by 10% per week, gradually, and avoid any massive jumps in intensity, frequency or distance. Pleeease try not to do too much, too soon, too fast… trust me, this is coming from a girl who did exactly that, and ended up off running for 3 months, and it’ll probably be a few months more! I’m the sad, prime example of what can happen!
2. Listen To Your Body.
Okay, so this seems like major common sense and pretty easy to do. But it’s surprising how many dedicated runners attempt to run through the pain, and are more set on a goal of timing or distance. This can lead to more serious injuries, and consistent problems that might sideline you longer in the future!
If you’re feeling some unfamiliar pain, take a few days off, do some cross training, and then run a shorter, easier run, and test out whether that pain is still there. If it is, repeat, and if the pain is still nagging, organise to see your sports doctor just to get it all checked out.
3. Try Shortening Your Stride.
Overstriding can increase the risk of injuries, because you’re landing with more force, and that goes straight to your bones and muscles. Eeeek! If you strides are smaller, you’re landing softer with much less impact, and if you’re a rocket scientist, you can then work out (with much difficulty, obviously) that this will dramatically reduce your chance of injuries! Um, yes please, sign me up..
4. Strength Training Helps Balance Your Body.
Strength training is the key to helping you keep a good posture, and your body straight and aligned, while you’re pounding the pavement. The most important muscles to work on are your hip adductors and abductors, your glutes and core, which will in turn increase your overall stability.
What I was told by my sports doc, was that regular resistance and strength training is also amazing for your bones, and keeps them strong and healthy. This is so important for us runners, because the sheer amount of foot strikes that occur while running put a lot of pressure on the bones, and if they’re not strong enough to handle this, they can experience injuries like stress fractures.
(woo, I’m officially the absolute expert on those pesky little things!)
RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is something you’ve probably heard since you were about 5 and started playing sport as a kiddy. This is the most effective immediate treatment for muscles and joint pains and aches, but many runners do this all well, and then jump straight back into running!
This is a no-no, as many experts have even said it should be PRICE, with the P standing for protection. This means not running, and resting up fully, until you feel the pain go away completely.
6. Run On A Level Surface.
I guess it makes a lot of sense that running on the hard concrete day after day can break down your body and lead to a whole range of injuries. This doesn’t mean that you can never run on concrete, and that it’s the biggest running sin out, it just means that whenever you can, try to substitute in runs on dirt trials, or even running tracks. These are softer surfaces, and and much nicer to your body. 🙂
7. Don’t Overdo the Speed Work and Racing.
Intervals and speed training require a maximum effort from you, and if you’re doing this kind of run more than twice a week, then you’re not getting enough rest so your muscles can recover and repair.
Don’t get me wrong, speed work is an essential part of any training plan, whether it be for a 10km or a marathon, but doing too much of it can get a little dangerous. And remember that after running the race you’ve been training for, recover afterwards is crucial!
Have one rest day for each mile you ran, as a general rule. Then you’ll come back feeling better and stronger than ever!
8. Stretch Those Legs.
Runners get tight muscles, so it’s important to stretch these out, because tight muscles that aren’t moving properly can contribute to injuries. The hamstrings and calf muscles are good ones for runners to focus on, as well as the hip flexors.
Don’t do static stretches before a run, which is holding a stretch while still for a period of time. Save these for after your run! Dynamic stretches are much better at improving flexibility, and warming up the muscles at the same time. Win-win!
If anyone has realised how important cross-training is, it’s this chick over here! Running demands so much of our bodies, and we really need to give it something back for all it does for us when we’re constantly hitting the open roads for km’s on end. Our muscles and joints get tired, and then don’t absorb shock as well anymore.
So, give them a little TLC! Hop on the bike or elliptical or in the pool, these can help continue to improve your aerobic fitness, without absolutely smashing the body. Give it a go on the days you’re not running, or if you’re feeling a bit worn down, maybe even stick to this for a few days or weeks.
10. Wear the Right Shoes.
There are so many shoes to choose from when it comes to running- cross-country, racing, even minimalist shoes- you have to figure out which one works best for you. As a general rule, it’s best to buy a shoe with more support than less, and make sure you’re replacing your shoes every 300-500 miles you run, as they get very worn down and that’s when the dreaded injuries can strike!
Can I just say I for one will definitely be taking this advice; they’re like the 10 Laws from the Running Bible!
Serious stuff guys.. 😉