No runner wants to get behind with training. The dreams you have of crossing the finishing line with a personal best can come true by taking some simple steps to prevent running injuries from occurring in the first place.
It can be so demoralizing to be constantly hampered by injuries; exercise should lift your spirits, not plunge you into despair wondering when you’ll be out running again.
Leg strength is key. At least two or three times a week incorporate lunges and leg squats into your training program. Forget the elevator; run up the stairs, even balancing on one leg while cleaning your teeth will help with leg strength as well as core stability.
If injured, it can be tempting to launch into a different fitness regime such as cycling, swimming or circuits at the gym. Sure, you’ll be keeping up with cardiovascular fitness and minimizing weight gain, but are you giving your body the best chance to repair itself? Cross training needs to be balanced with gentler strength training to guide you safely back to the point when you can run again without risking almost immediate injury.
Regular sports massages are beneficial in terms of keeping muscles loose and knot free – helping to prevent injury as well as treat it. Massage will relieve muscle tension, swelling and pain. Sports massage is ideally taken before races to warm up muscles, and after races for recovery – with maintenance sessions in between.
You might think it’s more important to keep active than to rest; on the contrary – enough sleep is vital in order for your body to heal. It might not always be easy to get seven hours; but consider prioritizing sleep over other activities, and try to get as much good quality sleep as possible. Pay attention to your diet; it’s the fuel which will keep you running well.
Good quality running shoes are essential. If possible, get them from a specialist retailer who will advise you, and will let you try running up and down before you decide if they are the right shoes for you and your running style.
Common types of running injury include Achilles Tendonitis that causes inflammation behind the ankle. Treatment, alongside strengthening exercises can lead to a full recovery.
Hamstring injuries happen when muscles or tendons are stretched too far. The hamstrings are the muscles that run from your hip to your knee. They become active during exercise when the knee bends, such as in running! Stretching and warming up before races or strenuous runs may help to reduce risk of injury. The length of time it takes to heal a hamstring injury really depends on the intensity of the muscle damage.
Ice is commonly used to treat any inflammation, but never for longer than 20 minutes. The ice will take the sting out of the pain. If the inflammation persists for more than a few days, try applying heat to increase the blood flow – this may speed up the healing process.
‘Runner’s knee’ refers to the inflammation of the cartilage under the kneecap, most likely caused by muscle tightness or imbalance. It can be prevented by incorporating stretches and exercises – such as squats and lunges – into your workouts to target your hips and quads. Support sleeves can offer warmth, protection and stability to joints, and a knee compression sleeve can offer pain relief from tendonitis and joint pain. It can reduce inflammation and swelling. It’s a wise investment to make to help prevent injuries in the first place by offering knee support. The warmth it gives promotes recovery of muscles by improving circulation.
It’s very tempting to reach the level of fitness you had before the injury, as quickly as you can. But that could hinder your recovery. Intersperse short runs of five to eight minutes with walking for five minutes. Listen to your body; if it’s telling you it’s in pain, stop running and keep walking. Each time you step out for exercise, increase the time spent running by small amounts. Build up your strength, stamina and distance slowly, and remain injury free.
Be aware of the risks to your health involved in your sport and research ways you can avoid them.
Running should be beneficial to your health and wellbeing; even more so if you can enjoy the social side of your sport by running with friends or joining a local club. If an injury occurs, remember how and why it happened and do all you can to avoid it happening again.