Flare ups and injuries are the worst words a runner wants to hear. We want to be healthy and injury free to we can avoid having to take time off. The longer we can run healthy, the happier we usually are. Today we are talking about ways to prevent injuries from happening and what to do if something does flare up
1- Finding The Right Shoes
Getting fitted for running shoes at your local run specialty shop is the first step in preventing injury. What works for one person might not work for the next, so it’s important for someone to do a gait analysis on YOU to ensure you are running in the proper shoes.
It is important to note shoes should be retired after a certain mileage usually around ~300 but it depends on the shoe model. Ask your running store specialist
2- Pre-Run Exercises & Drills
Drills & exercises such as band work, leg swings, hip openers, A skips, B skips, etc. will help turn your muscles ON so they are prepared for what’s to come and reinforce good form. Getting your muscles warm prior to running will also reduce the risk for acute injuries like a hamstring or calf strain 🤕
Glute Activation Drills: When the glutes aren’t firing and aren’t strong, other muscles in your body will compensate. These compensating muscles (like your hamstrings and quads), and the joints around them (knee, hip, and even ankle joints), take on too much force which can lead to injury
By activating the whole muscle, you are less likely to become a ‘quad dominate runner’. You want to be a balanced runner. When there are imbalances within the body, certain muscles work harder than they should. This can cause overuse or change of natural gait.
3- Warm up & Cool Down:
Similar to pre-run exercises, warming up and cooling down for a few miles before and after hard workouts prepares your body beforehand and aids in the recovery process afterwards. A good warm up starts at an easy effort and builds into a faster pace. We want to allow the body time to gradual warm up before we do harder effort work.
4- Strength Training:
Strength training will help improve your form and help eliminate muscle imbalances in your body. Strength training also ensures your muscles are activated when running, so they can “brace for impact” with each step
- Muscle to mind connection important & strength training helps utilize the full muscle
- Strength Training reduces muscle imbalances that may be present in runners
- Being a strong core can help with your running form and running economy making you more efficient
5- Nutrition & Sleep:
Nutrition: If you don’t eat enough and/or get in key vitamins & minerals to keep up with your training volume, you can be susceptible to stress fractures by way of low BMI, irregular/absence of periods, and/or low bone mineral density
Sleep: Most adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Athletes who are training hard need even more. If you are not able to get the minimum sleep needed, it will impair your body’s ability to recover. If sleep is being disrupted, consider cutting down on mileage & intensity. If you can’t recover with proper sleep, there is not use in digging yourself into a bigger hole adding more stress from more workouts.
- Sleep produces Human Growth Hormone for recovery
- Nutrition- if you are not eating enough your body cannot repair and sustain itself: women who do not get their period can be susceptible to bone issues.
6- Avoid Overtraining
Easier said than done, right? It can be hard to find the happy medium where you are improving but not wreaking havoc on your body, but working with a coach and listening to your own body will help you find that mileage and training sweet spot! Utilizing the Progressive overload principle can help you avoid overtraining.
Keys to avoiding overtraining & using progressive overload:
- You need to start where your fitness & mileage currently is
- Do not forces paces or train faster than you should for your fitness level
- Do not do big jumps in mileage & use the 10% rule as max mileage increase weekly
- Do not increase your long runs by more than 20-30 min per week & cap at 3 hours
- Keep your easy days truly easy or switch it into cross training if you are very sore
7- Check Your Stride:
Do you know what you look like when you run? It is important to be aware of your running form. Some athletes have reoccurring flare ups or injuries because an imbalance with their running stride. There are many factors in the gait that could effect your body. If you struggle with running form getting a gait analysis from a certified physical therapist can help identify problem areas. Once the ares are identified, the PT will prescribe specific exercises to you to correct imbalances. It is very important that you get actionable information after a gait analysis. Knowing your weak points isn’t enough. You must take action to correct imbalances.
- Wasting energy sideways with arm swings
- Tensing up wasting energy
- Leaning forward vs backwards
- Bounding in the air for too long
- Landing improper
8- All The Little Things For Recovery
Athletes often obsess over what they can do to get faster from a workload & stress perspective, but did you know that stress + rest = growth? We need to focus on the rest and recovery portion also. There are many things athletes do to help with the recovery portion of their training
- Foam Rolling
- Rest Days
- Yoga Sessions
- Resting enough between workouts
- Listening to body
- Supplementing if needed
- Epsom Salt Baths
- CBD oil
The list goes on! Anything that helps with your recovery/relaxing process is very important. In the go-go-go world that we live in, there is not a big focus on recovery, but it is so important.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET INJURED?
- REST & take time off
- Do not run through pain
- See a doctor ASAP for diagnosis and treatment
- Ask if you can run or cross training
- Ask for PT exercises
- Use your doctors advise!