If you’re new to running or a seasoned runner preparing for a race, a running injury can really set you back. We’ve pulled together six ways you can avoid a running injury with some simple, preventable advice for a long, healthy, injury-free running career.
Thoughts of sustaining a running injury disturbs many runners, and you may have heard exaggerated horror stories about ongoing knee niggles and inflamed ‘IT’ bands. These stories can start to haunt you every time you lace up, but in truth, many injuries are preventable.
Here are our six ways to avoid a running injury:
1. Wear shoes that fit
Whether you’re just starting to run or taking your running to the next level, it’s critical that you run in the right pair of shoes. Properly fitting trainers will support your foot type, running style and fitness goals. Consider heading to your local running store to speak to a shoe expert and have your gait analysed. Gait analysis will reveal how your foot strikes the ground and distributes impact, which helps determine whether you need a shoe with more or less stability.
2. Start slow
When we enjoy something, we tend to dive in and go full speed ahead. But with running and all fitness endeavors, it’s important to build up your efforts slowly. Follow a training plan that suits your running experience and goals. A quality plan will specify how many runs a week you should do, mileage per run, and with what effort your run should be completed. Any good plan will also incorporate one or two rest days. Be careful not to increase your mileage by more than 10% per week and if life gets in the way of training, don’t be afraid to adjust the plan.
3. Incorporate weight training
Weight training is vital for strengthening the main muscles used while running, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Developing these muscles, as well as others like your abdominals and hip flexors, can improve your running performance through increased muscular efficiency and endurance. In turn, these muscles and their connective tissues and associated bones are also better equipped to handle the stress of extended training. Think about adding a short strength routine to your training a few times a week. Even two to three focused sessions of multi-joint exercises, like squats, lunges and push-ups can be beneficial.
Before heading out for a run, consider doing a warm-up to prepare your body for exercise. Avoid static stretches and opt instead for dynamic movements, like lateral straight leg swings, walking toe touches and glute kicks. These pre-workout exercises activate your body by taking your joints through their full range of motion and boosting blood circulation to your muscles.
5. Fuel well
Eating a nutrient rich diet with balanced macro-nutrients will fuel your body for exercise, promote muscle repair and recovery and support bone strength. Build your meals around lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates and colourful vegetables with an emphasis on proper fuelling pre and post run.
6. Keep your eyes and ears open
Relaxation is one of the main reasons many people head out for a run, but ‘zone out’ too much and you risk letting your guard down. A wet leaf or turn taken too quickly could result in a twisted ankle or worse. Relax on your runs, but run mindfully.
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