It’s very rare to talk to a runner that hasn’t experienced some kind of pain or injury. This may last anywhere from a few days to a few years, either way injuries are incredibly demoralising and frustrating.
In this blog I am going to run you through (pun intended) my top tips for preventing injuries whether you are just starting up or you’re an experienced runner.
Tip 1 – Don’t run too much to soon!
This is very easily done, particularly at the beginning. You get out there, you’re having a good time and get carried away with how far you can go. Despite feeling accomplished with how far you’ve been able to run this often leads to overuse injuries such as runners knee. You will be hard pushed to find a runner that hasn’t experienced injury due to this but it can be avoided by taking your time to slowly increase your mileage. Personally, when trying to increase my distance I aim for an extra 1-1.5km each week.
Same goes with the number of times you choose to run each week. This will differ for everyone but personally I find I need plenty of recovery time between runs and will only do 2-3 runs per week, whilst others might find they can run every other day. Again, this will also differ depending on the mileage you like to do, as for myself I would rather do 2 longer runs than 3-4 shorter ones.
Tip 2 – Dynamic stretching pre-run & Static stretching post-run
Dynamic stretches work to warm up and prepare your joints and muscles for the coming run. It helps to activate the joints prior to movement and helps to prevent stiffness or injury. My favourite dynamic stretches are leg swings, lunges (forward, backwards and side) and toe jumps.
Static stretching is also critical to avoiding injuries. After each run I stretch for at least 10 minutes, followed by a gentle yoga session later in the day. Some great post run static stretches are standing quad stretch, pigeon, half split (ardha hanumanasana), thread the needle (parsva balasana) and cow face pose (gomukasana).
Tip 3 – Shoes!!
The shoes you run in are absolutely critical to preventing injury and I 100% believe it is worth investing in a good pair. The number of injuries I have experienced in the past due to not running in the ‘right’ shoes is phenomenal and it is so easily avoided. It is important to remember that the right pair of shoes for one person will be very different from the right pair for another person. I highly recommend going to a good running shop and getting your gate analysed.
Whilst we’re talking about feet, I also want to mention the importance of a good pair of running socks to prevent blisters and toe injuries. Again you can find these at a good running shop.
Tip 4 – Incorporate cross training and rest
Cross training is great for increasing and maintaining aerobic fitness whilst giving your joints and muscles a rest for the movement of running. I like to walk a lot so I use this as a form of cross training however others might prefer to jump on a bike. I also find yoga to help a lot with recovery, personally I choose to practice yoga on a daily basis (aside from it being good for running) and have found it very beneficial to prevent stiffness whilst strengthening key muscles.
Overall, I believe it is incredibly important to listen to you body; the aches and pains are there for a reason. Be sensible and be aware of what it is trying to tell you. If you are getting regular injuries the likelihood is that something is wrong and could be as simple to fix as changing your shoes or taking a break for a week.