Running is a great way of getting fit and losing weight. It also reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, raises your self-esteem and improves your mental health. However, developing a running injury is a real risk.
Before you hit the streets, let me give you a few things to think about that will help reduce your risk of developing a running injury.
Running is a high injury activity, with up to 79% of runners suffering an injury every year. If you have no or little running experience, have a high BMI or have previously suffered a running injury, you are at higher risk of developing 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. When our bodies are not able to tolerate these loads, running 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. This 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%. It has also been shown to improve 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. 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 a running injury, look out for consistent niggles that don’t recover and seek help!!