It’s that time of year, spring is upon us. It’s often the time of year when those who don’t run, take it up, and it’s often when established runners ‘tweak’ their training or increase their distance/ speed/ intensity in preparation for events. These top tips will hopefully keep you injury free, as March is usually the month we see a lot of running related injuries, typically Achilles, shin splints, ITB syndrome and a selection of overuse injuries
1. Steady progressions
To train and improve, do not increase your mileage more than 10% in a week, to allow muscles and joints to adapt – new or novice runners should reduce this to 3 – 5%. Try and vary your terrain and avoid excessive running downhill, on roads or pavements – varying your terrain and surface will reduce your risk of injury.
2. Wear the correct running shoe for you
Are you a pronator? supinator? neutral foot type? There is so much choice of running shoe now, it can be a bit overwhelming, so either ask your physio or choose a specialist running shop to assess you and guide you with the right choices – your running shoe should support your natural biomechanics, not alter or change it. Most runners, once they find a comfortable trainer, become brand loyal. It is also helpful to buy a new pair half way through the life of your first pair to wear them in, minimising structural differences.
3. Warm up
This is often the bit people miss out, but please don’t! Try and allow at least 10 minutes to gradually warm up your muscles by jogging at 40 -50% of your normal pace and mix with dynamic (functional) stretching, like skipping, lunge walking and leg swings.
4. Specific strength training
I have lost count how many times I have told high level competitive runners to vary their programme and mix some core work or specific strength training. A typical overuse pattern in a lot of runners are tight, overactive hip flexors, hamstrings and lumbar extensors – more work often needed on gluteals, VMO ( the quad on the inside of your knee) and postural muscles. Functional exercises like planking, overhead lunges and squats are all great.
5. Mix it Up
Please, don’t just run! And if you’re starting with an injury, don’t try and “run it off”. Runners who only run are much more likely to pick up an overuse injury, so mix it up with cycling, cross training, cross fit or HIIT (high intensity interval training) – you need alternative ways to offload the areas continually loaded with running, and give tissues a greater chance to recover in between runs.
Runners are notoriously bad at recovery – many will go for a long run then spend 2 minutes stretching. Without appropriate recovery strategies, an injury will become more likely. Quite often it is time that can limit our time spent on recovery, which is understandable, but invest in an armoury of knowledge and different techniques. For example, foam rolling, active stretching, cold/ice bath ( there is good evidence for this!), recovery tights/ socks and massage to name a few.
7. Listen to your body
Being in tune with your body and listening to the warning signs can often either prevent injury or nip an injury in the bud before it takes hold. Being aware when your legs are feeling heavy or your head is not quite in the right place, can allow you to perhaps change your plans to maybe a cycling or swim session rather than the planned 10km – usually this means the next session will be better and you will feel stronger both physically and mentally. Continually evaluating, modifying, adapting, is the key to injury prevention. And if it’s not broke, don’t fix it! If you find the right running shoe, regime, diet and balance for you, don’t be drawn into new concepts, shoes or regimes which may offset all your hard work.
Happy running! We hope you stay injury free, but if you need advice or help from the physiotherapists with the clinical expertise in all areas of musculoskeletal medicine, contact us at email@example.com or check out www.tayloredfitphysio.co.uk for more information