To reduce the risk of injury, runners should predominantly focus upon three key areas during their training:
1. Increase their running distance gradually
2. Wear appropriate footwear of which maintains optimal foot position
3. Follow a comprehensive strengthening, stretching programme in addition to running.
Sporting injuries typically occur when a muscle or joint is overloaded beyond its ability to handle the stress placed upon it. This is typically due to either a lack of conditioning or trauma. Incorporating simple exercises into your routine can help to strengthen and stabilise your body to help prevent the injury occurring in the first place.
It is vital to be proactive with injury prevention, especially if you’ve suffered from previous running injuries in the past. Implementing a regular strength and flexibility routine should be a priority. Strengthening the quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings will help to improve overall stability to the hip, knee and ankle. In addition to improving the tracking of the knee cap, these exercises will also help reduce unnecessary pressure and load of the knees.
Working to improve your mobility also remains necessary. Exercises such as leg swings and sit squats before and after workouts are a great way to improve hip mobility in particular. Regular foam rolling and soft tissue massages on the hamstrings, calves, quads and around the IT band can assist in keeping your lower limb biomechanics in good working order.
Running long distances, especially on hard unforgiving surfaces places a large amount of stress upon the knee joint. Common running injuries such as IT band syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis tend be as a result of muscular imbalances, overuse and soft tissue restrictions.
Here are a few takeaway tips to help prevent those running injuries;
1. Keep an eye on your running mileage! More miles isn’t necessarily better. Remember a progressive overload is key to both adaptation and injury prevention with a 10% increase week by week typically recommended.
2. Hit the weights and strengthen your whole body! Strengthening exercises not only reduce the risk of injury but are evidenced to improve your running economy and performance. Shift your focus to strengthen both your core, glutes and hamstrings.
3. Soft tissue work is vital! Attending regular sports massage treatments and foam rolling your lower limb will reduce restrictions and adhesions in overactive muscles, improving your body’s ability to recovery and ultimately enhance your performance.
4. Invest in quality footwear and know when to replace them. A proper gait analysis matches the runners degree of pronation (the natural inward role of the foot) with the correct shoe type aiming to counter balance the under or over-pronation, reducing the risk of injury and improving your running efficiency.