Running Injury Prevention
In November 2020 I attended a brilliant physiotherapist lead course on Zoom called Running Repairs. Physio Tom Goom lead the course weekend through all things to prevent and manage common running injurues and covered so much great, evidence based, information. So I thought I'd share my personal takeaways for runners!
The biggest factor in running injuries is changes to loading. This primarily comes from training; frequency of runs, weekly distance average, intensity or pace of runs and even terrain and elevation. These factors need to be managed gradually as any sudden, or un sustainable ramp ups will raise injury risk. This is where a proper training plan, designed for you, is really key and I can help here!
Other changes to load can come from other areas like changes to or additions of cross training, changing your shoes suddenly to a different type, or changes to your routine (for example spending more time on your feet or walking than usual).
Rest and Recovery
Stress plus rest equals progress. You don't get stronger and fitter when you train, it happens when you are resting and recovering. Rest days, recovery weeks (where distance and intensity drops back) and sleep are all key factors in making sure the challenge of training is something your body can adapt to. The alternative is that your body isn't able to repair the microdamage after each training session and the training load breaks your body down over time.
Alongside sleep and rest a whole host of other factors plan into the injury risk equation;
- eating good quality foods
- reducing stressors in other areas of life
- having a good self care routine
- having a good support network
All these things also have a positive impact on injury risk!
Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning reduces injury risk by 50%...! It also improves running economy and performance, what's not to like?!
What's best to do varies by individual but here are some key guidelines;
- Aim to build strength with 2-3 sessions a week for 2-3 months at least
- One strength session a week will maintain current strength levels
- Allow at least three hours after a run before a strength session
- Have at least 24 hours recovery after strength work before any high intensity running
- Resistance and weights are excellent for running specific strength work (you won't "bulk up" if you are doing cardio training too)
- Focus on doing strength with good form
- Gradually build weight/resistance up to the point where you can just about do 8-12 reps of each exercise for three sets. So, for each exercise; 8-12 reps up to the point where you couldn't do another one, 1-2 minutes recovery, 8-12 reps again, another recovery and a final 8-12 reps.
Technique adjustment can be used to reduce load on certain areas of the legs and body as we run, so can be a part of a rehabilitation programme post injury.
Things like stride length and cadence as well as the stability of the trunk and pelvis when we land and push off are aspects of running form that have a more clear link to injury risk.
Beware of making sudden changes to your running technique without good reason as you can change the load on specific muscle groups which can lead to injury!