If you’ve read my previous two articles on ‘Preventing and Treating Common Running Injuries’ part 1 and part 2, you know that having a well-programmed training plan and taking precautions can greatly minimize risks to injuries and ailments.
Here are some more tips for prevent running injuries.
Don’t ignore pain: In my experience as a sports therapist, most runners (and other athletes) who visit a sports clinic and complain of unbearable pain are usually those who have been ignoring the pain and discomfort for some time and waited for the pain to worsen before going to be checked and treated. Muscle soreness is natural and it is sometimes okay to ‘run through the pain‘, especially if you only feel slight soreness from your legs, but if the pain has been consistent and you find it increasing, then it’s a sign that what you are feeling is more than just regular DOMS. If you run with sore legs, it might also mean that other muscles will be compensating for the effort. So if you feel sore but you need to add mileage, run at a slower pace.
Rest adequately: Most of these running injuries stem from lack of enough recovery time for the body to repair and strengthen itself for your next run. At the first signs of unusual discomfort or pain, lessen your running load or activity and rest adequately.
Warm up and stretch: muscle tightness causes an imbalance in your body. Be sure to stretch, especially after you run, holding the stretch for each area for at least 20 seconds. Before you run, warm-up properly and try to perform dynamic stretching (movements) and reach the muscles ROM to ensure that they are ready.
Some professionals advise focusing the stretch on the calves, hamstring, groin and quadriceps, but a whole body stretching routine, which includes other body parts that are involved with running (shins, hips, low back, abdominals, as well as chest and shoulders) will ensure that your body is well-balanced and ready for your run. A good warm-up routine lasts for 5 to 10 minutes and conditions the whole body, not just the legs.
Lift weights: Strength training can help you develop muscle strength and endurance for your runs. Working with weighted resistance is also shown to improve your core strength. Don’t worry about bulking up from weight training – having a balanced training program will ensure that you reach your goals without adding extra weight.
Cross train: Involvement in other activities or sports will develop your body in different aspects and may help you improve your agility, stamina, and coordination. This helps prevent injuries as your body becomes prepared to react to different kinds of stresses. Don’t just run – try swimming, biking, basketball, football, even rock climbing! Cross-training also minimizes the risk for overuse injuries which commonly occur when you repeat the same activity repetitively.
Dress appropriately: Make sure that your shoes fit right. Check the soles of your running shoes – running shoes are usually good for 400 to 500 kilometers. If possible, wear a separate pair for every day walking and running to prevent your shoes from wearing out too quickly.
Patience is a virtue: Don’t force yourself to run longer distances too soon. A safe range for increasing distance is 10% per week. Do not try to run uphill or downhill if your body is not ready for it. It is commonly thought that running downhill is easier because you get gravity to lessen your effort, but running downhill can actually be more stressful to your knee joints and muscles as the body tries to ‘brake’ and control the descent.
Stay hydrated: Long duration physical activities such as running may require additional 1 1/2 to 2 /12 cups of water on running days. Drink 150 to 250ml of water 15 to 30 minutes prior to your run. Try to drink at least 150ml of water after every 15 minutes during your run. Hydrate with a sports drink after your long run to replenish lost liquids and electrolytes.
Talk to a coach or trainer: If you are serious about wanting to improve your performance and adding up to your mileage, talking to a professional is the best thing to do. Reading about training programs and running regimens may not be enough. Doing what other seasoned runners in your club may not even be beneficial. Individualization of your running program is very important not only because it will significantly improve your performance, but it will also decrease risks for injuries.
Have you experienced any running injuries? How did you manage your recovery? Do you find these tips helpful?
If you want to know more about managing running injuries and ailments, let me know in the comments.
This article was shared and edited with the author’s written permission. The article originally appeared on coachbillygoco.com.