How to avoid running injuries

There is nothing more disapointing to a runner than suffering an injury. Days, Weeks, months, and even years of training and fitness can go out the wondow if you slip on the ice, turn over your ankle, or a chronic overuse injury. I’m writing this with experience of chronic over use.

Running Injured

Sports scientists say between 30 and 80% of regular runners, amateur or Pro have an injury in a given year. Other fitness experts narrow that to nearly 70% of all runners will become injured at some point. The chances are, if you’re a runner, you’ll be injured at some point.

Running injuries are commonly caused by repetitive movements and stress on the joints and tendons in the legs. These are some of the most common injuries you will come across.

Runner’s Knee
Pain will be located near and around the kneecap, symptoms will show after sitting for extended periods of time with knees bent (driving for example) or while walking down stairs or downhill.

Iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS)
ITBFS is the common cause of lateral knee pain.  Runners, military personnel, and cyclists commonly experienced this. The pain or achingwill be located on the outside of the knee, usually occurring in the middle or at the end of a run.

Shin Splints
Pain occurring in either the front or inside of the lower leg when prolonged running, typically on hard surfaces.

Achilles Tendinitis
Pain that begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body and is extremely strong. Connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and is used when you walk, run, and jump.

Plantar Fasciitis
The Plantar Fasciitis is a band of tissue running underneath the sole of the foot. The pain is normally present when the foot flattens during weight-lifting or when pushing off with the toes during walking up steps, uneven ground or running, Pain commonly radiates from near the heel.

Knee bursitis (I suffer from this)
Occurs when there is irritation or inflammation in one of the knee bursa.  A Bursa is a small fluid filled sac that reduce the friction between two surfaces. They are found all over the body, and sit between bones and muscles, a bit like ball bearings. They allow the muscles to move freely over a joint as they contract and relax without being subjected to too much strain or friction.

Running Injuries and their causes
Structural imbalance and training volume, these are the two main causes of running injuries. Both cause of the injury that are not easy to diagnose. The issue with alot of injuries is that the problem by stem from another source. a foot issue can cause a problem in the knees, hips, or lower back. Diagnosing the root of the issue is where a trained expert comes in. At this point and from a great deal of experience forget your local GP in the UK, just go straight to a sports physiotherapist as soon as the issue happens, don’t leave it and DON’T keep training on it!!

Structural imbalance, this is when the body is misaligned or when a muscle group is weak and you compensate using another muscle groups. Structural imbalances can be caused by physical attributes like a missaligned back or hips, or if you have ever broken a leg, maybe a slight length difference.

The body adapts to stresses very quickly, building muscle and becoming stronger. This is the basic principle of training for any activity. But as with anything, pushing too fast or running too far, too soon, stressing the body meaning it never has time to fully recover and instead weakens. Training progression is the keys to avoiding overuse injuries.

Ways to Avoid Injury from Running

  1. Before you can run you must walk. If you are just starting out or returning to running after a long break, start slowly. Muscles need to condition with a regular walking plan. Activities like swimming or cycling will help with the cardiovascular system and take some of the strain off your joints.
  2. Don’t expect miracles, understand your body. For every pound you weigh, four pounds of pressure are placed on the knee when running. Basically if you weigh 180 pounds (12.8 Stone), there is a 720 pounds (52 Stone) of force on the knee with each stride.
  3. Follow a sensible and realistic training plan. Don’t try and train for a big event just a month or two before it, like a marthon. You need to give yourself time to train and your body to change. I’ve seen even recently friends do the local moon walk (a marthon, but walking through the night), have problems after with ankles and hips. Your first plan wont suit you, it will need tweaking and changing as you progress to suit how your body is changing.
  4. Right shoes on the right feet. Walking in to a sports shop and finding the right pair of shoes can be hard, there are all kinds of shoes out there these days. Firstly comfort!!! Find a pair of shoes that feels good on your feet and support your foot in the places. Your shoes will take alot of wear, replace them when they no longer feel comfortable or the padding in conpressed and no longer return to it’s original shape. There are lots of specialty running stops or departments within larger shops that can help you find the right type of shoe, some scan you feet to see if you are flat footted for example. Others have treadmills that video you feet to see how they land and can then supply shoes with the roght padding.
  5. Injury prevention is the best medicine. Warm up slowly for atleast 10 minutes before running. Dynamic stretching (lunges etc) before your runs and static stretching after your runs. Another useful tool is a foam roll, great for tired muscles before and/or after runs, there are loads of videos on Youtube on how to use these. If you do spot any potential injuries, ice and elevate as soon as you feel them. Strength training should be in your weekly workout plan to help strengthen your core and stabilize your body to prevent injuries. You don’t need to go and lift ridiculously heavy weights, any good gym will be able to best advice you on the right weights for your end goal.

Most importantly, listen to your body, recognize when it’s trying to tell you your overtraining, and lastly, have fun, running and being outdoors can be very relaxing, a time to clear your mind and daydream.

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