How to avoid running injuries
Whether you’re just starting out or training for an event like the City2Surf, there’s nothing more upsetting than suffering from a running injury. It can sabotage even the best laid fitness plans and set your training back weeks or even months.
Injuries are particularly common among new runners whose bodies aren’t used to the repetitive load and forces of running. The good news is, most injuries can be prevented if you take the right precautions. Improving your running technique, incorporating core and strength training into your routine along with regular stretching all help.
Here are the most common injuries and how to avoid them so you don’t run into trouble.
Shin splints are caused by too much stress being put on the tibia (shin bone) when the body cannot adequately absorb the force is not given enough time to repair itself after a workout. This inflames the muscles and tendons covering the bone.
- Generalised pain or tenderness along the shin bone.
- A pain that develops during exercise.
- Poor biomechanics: Biomechanics refers to the way your body is moving, including how your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments all work together to produce movement.
- Overpronation: is excessive inward rolling of the foot and its often caused by poor biomechanics. If your running shoes have excessive wear on the inner side of the sole, you’re most likely an overpronator.
- Overstriding: Stride length refers to the amount of ground you cover in one step. While everybody’s stride is different, in general, overstriding means you’re going beyond your optimal stride length.
- Tight muscles.
- Start off slowly and increase the volume and intensity of your runs gradually.
- Work on improving your running technique.
- Strengthen calves.
- Stretch calves, achilles & front of leg.
- Strengthen and improve stability in the hips.
Runners knee is an umbrella term given to conditions effecting the knee. It’s most commonly used to describe Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS), although it’s sometimes used to describe Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).
PPS refers to the condition where pain is present around or behind the kneecap, believed to be caused from misalignment of the patella (kneecap), which irritates the femur (thigh bone). It can feel as though the knee is giving way and might be accompanied by a grinding or popping sensation.
The ITB is a band of fascia (a web of connective tissue that covers all the bones and muscles in the body) that runs down your hip, across the knee and inserts to the top of your tibia to stabilise the knee. ITBS is the condition where the ITB is not functioning correctly, causing compression or irritation which leads to pain, usually on the outer side of the knee. In some cases pain can be felt along the ITB right up to the hip.
- Muscle weakness and instability in the hips.
- Muscles tightness.
- Sudden increase in mileage, speed or hill work.
- Shoes not suited to your foot type.
- Running downhill or going down stairs.
- Sitting for long periods of time.
- Specific hip strengthening routine, including exercises such as clams, side lying leg raises and bridge pose.
- Strengthen quads.
- Keep up your stretching to optimise function of your muscles and joints.
- Increase mileage, hill work and speed work gradually.
The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot and keeps the bones and joints in position, while also helping you push off the ground. Once over-strained or irritated it doesn’t function as it should.
- Sharp pain in the heel and/or bottom mid-foot.
- Pain increased with weight bearing following rest.
- Pain is normally more intense first thing in the morning.
- Sudden increase in mileage.
- Poor biomechanics, high arches, or flat feet.
- Tight calf muscles and achilles.
- Weak flexor digitorum brevis (muscle in the sole of foot).
- Get fitted with the correct type of running shoes for your foot.
- Change shoes and vary surface you run on, variety is important to prevent the exact same repetitive stress.
- Depending on your foot type and biomechanics you may need to invest in some sort of orthotics to support the arch.
- Increase mileage, hill and speed work gradually.
- Stretch the calf and Achilles.
- Strengthen flexor digitorum brevis muscle.
If you already have the symptoms of any of these injuries it is recommended that you rest from running and any exercise that aggravates your pain until you see an improvement. Remember all injuries and individuals are different so dependent on your injury and severity seeing a health professional and having your injury diagnosed and treated is recommended.
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