Man running

Stay injury free when running

Since the gyms closed and the weather got nicer there seem to be a lot more runners on the streets.   If you are one of them be careful you don’t end up with running injuries.

This blog aims to give you some tips to keep you injury free.  Hopefully you will enjoy running and keep it up even after the gyms reopen and lockdown ends!

The good news about running

Running is one of the best all round sports for burning calories and improving fitness  It’s also cheap, requiring little equipment except good trainers and for women a good sports bra.

Regular runners build great bone density in the legs leading to a reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life.

Runners also enjoy excellent cardiovascular fitness and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

The bad news about running

The down side of running is that as it’s so intensive it also carries a bigger risk of injury than some less demanding exercises such as walking.

Running injuries are common but there is a lot you can do to decrease the risk.

running injuries

As running is high impact, running injuries can affect the whole body.  Here is a quick lowdown of how running affects the different zones of the body followed by a quick action plan for you.

spine and back

Running can stress the spine and repeatedly running on hard surfaces can lead to herniated discs and sciatica.  Running with weak core stability muscles can also lead to a dysfunctional sacroiliac joint which can cause pain in the pelvic area.

abdomen, hip and groin

Running long distances stresses the outer side of the hip joint which can lead to bursitis. Sprinting can increase the risk of groin strains.

Thighs

The hamstrings (back of the leg) or quadriceps (front of the leg) can be prone to strains and tears especially if you don’t warm up properly.

knees

The knee is common area of injury for runners as running places a lot of stress on the knee joint.  Tightness in the iliotibial band which runs from the outer hip to the knee pulls the knee out of alignment and causes pain in the outside of the knee.  Patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee) can be caused by muscular weakness so the knee is not properly stabilised when running. Increasing mileage too quickly is another common cause.

lower leg and feet

Constantly pushing off on the toes can lead to shin splints (pain around the shins).  Another area prone to stress from running is the tendon of the tibialis posterior which can lead to pain on the inside of the ankle.  Problems with the Achiles tendon are also really common – this would lead to pain in the back of the calf and ankle.

 

how to cut your risk of running injury

warm up and cool down

Start off  your workout with a brisk walk for 5 mins and then increase to a slow jog for a couple of minutes.  Don’t go straight into a hard run.  This gives your body time to increase blood flow and gets muscles warm.  Towards the end of your workout reduce speed and intensity gradually until you are down to a brisk walk.  At the end of your workout do a few stretches on the main muscle groups in your body.

Footwear and running surface

Wear good quality trainers suited to your foot type and running style.  If in doubt go to a specialist running or sports shop and ask the staff to help you choose a good pair.  Where possible try not to run on concrete.  Grass or dirt paths at the park are far less jarring for your joints than concrete.

increase mileage gradually

Don’t suddenly increase your mileage.  Beginners can try the NHS Couch to 5k program which guides you through a run/walk program for beginners.  More experienced runners should work to the 10% rule of limiting mileage increases to no more than 10% per week.

Don’t overtrain

How much exercise is too much depends on your general level of fitness and what you are used to.

For beginners I would suggest no more than three sessions a week of intense exercise.   Perhaps do couch to 5k run/walk Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then on the days inbetween you could walk or do some core exercises instead.

Be guided by your body.  If you start to feel stiff and achey and old injuries start to resurface take it as a sign you are overdoing it and cut back.

Incorporate a strength and conditioning routine

It’s important to also do exercises designed to increase muscular strength, core stability and maintain flexibility.

You don’t have to go to the gym to do exercises to improve your muscular strength.  You can do exercises like squats and lunges at home.  If you aren’t sure where to start, try NHS Strength and flex plan which is a five week program of exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

Core stability exercises incorporate moves to strengthen the abdominal and trunk muscles.  Things like Pilates and Yoga are excellent for this.  A strong core is important as it supports the spine and reduces the risk of disc problems.  For some ideas of Core strength exercises click here

Flexibility exercises lengthen the muscles and help keep joints moving at their full range of motion.  Try to follow a basic stretching routine at the end of each run and hold a stretch on each main muscle group for a minimum of 30-60 seconds.

Sports and massage therapy

A sports therapy session can help with injuries and niggles by identifying dysfunctional areas and putting a personalised plan in place to address this.  Read more about sports therapy here.

about relax therapies

My name is Anna and I founded Relax Therapies in 2015.  I love helping people feel their best and get out of pain fast.

When I am not massaging I am a parkrun fanatic.

 

Anna

Anna from Relax Therapies

Or for more information contact me 

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