If, like me, you were over indulgent over the festive period, you may be thinking about turning over a new leaf and setting goals around your health and fitness. Many people at this time of year will turn to running as part of their New Year’s resolutions in a bid to burn off those excess Christmas calories.
Running is a great way of getting fit, losing weight, reducing your risk of major illness such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as raising your self-esteem and improving your mental health. It is quick, cheap and simple, so what are you waiting for??
Before you don your 12-year-old trainers and hit the streets, let me give you a few things to think about that will help reduce your risk of developing a running related injury, and therefore help you stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals.
Running is a high injury activity, with up to 79% of runners suffering an injury every year. Known risk factors for developing running related injury are having no or little running experience, having a high BMI and having previously suffered a running injury. So how can you help reduce your risk of developing an injury- follow these 5 simple tips:
- DON’T DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON
Novice runners should be especially careful when increasing the volume or intensity of their training. Running places high loads on your body, and when our bodies are not able to tolerate these loads, injury occurs. Our bodies are very good at adapting to these loads but it takes time! When you start to run you will see improvements in your cardiovascular fitness, which will likely encourage you to push yourself to go further and faster. Every runner has a breaking point where they will start to develop injuries, and increasing the volume or intensity of your training too quickly is likely to push you past that breaking point. Increasing the volume and intensity of your training gradually is one of the best ways of reducing your injury risk.
- INCLUDE SOME STRENGTH TRAINING IN YOUR ROUTINE
Regular strength training will allow your body to tolerate a higher running/training load. Research shows that including strength and conditioning into your training routine can reduce your risk of developing an overuse injury by around 50% as well as improving your performance. Try swapping one of your running sessions for a strength session- you won’t regret it.
Most running injuries that we see in clinic are overuse injuries. Our bodies need time to recover and to synthesis new tissue so they adapt and become stronger. For example, tendons take around 24 hours to recover after running, so not getting enough rest can lead to the tendon not recovering fully and will ultimately lead to injury. It is also thought that those who train all year round are more likely to develop injury. Taking a week or two off training may do you the world of good! Trust your body, if you feel you need a break, take one.
- VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!
If you go out and do the same route, at the same pace, on the same surface, the stress on your body will not vary very much and the same structures will be loaded in the same way time after time; this can contribute to overuse injury. Mixing your training can help counteract this. Introducing some cross-training, interval training or trail running will help load different structures and can potentially help reduce your chance of developing an overuse injury. A word of caution however, any changes should be introduced slowly and should not coincide with an increase in training volume.
- PLAN YOUR TRAINING
Having a sensible training plan and keeping a training log can be a great way of making sure that you aren’t overdoing things, getting enough rest and including strength and conditioning in your program.
To wrap things up, running is a great way to get yourself fit and lose some weight but it must be done sensibly, especially if you are a new to running or are returning to running after a break or injury. Be aware of signs of injury, look out for consistent niggles that don’t recover and seek help!!
Why not book in for our Runner’s MOT? This is an in depth running specific assessment designed for clients who are new to running or for the non-injured runner who is considering either an increase in mileage or intensity in training. The appointment will start with a thorough history taking, including a full medical and injury history, discussion of your current training schedules and current and future goals. You will then be taken through a series of running specific, functional and dynamic tests to highlight areas where there is either a restriction in joint motion or a lack of muscle strength. Video gait analysis will then be carried out. You will be able to see for yourself how you run, helping you to understand your particular problems, why they exist and how they can be treated and prevented. Following the assessment recommendations will be made with regard to footwear choice and strengthening and stretching exercise program. Where appropriate, referral to physiotherapists, sports doctors or running coaches/personal trainers will be made.
If you’d like to book an appointment with one of our team, just complete the form below: