RUNNING AND INJURY PREVENTION
- Due to the current lockdown, many people are hitting the streets in a bid to maintain, improve or begin their fitness drive. Running is a fantastic exercise that is easily accessible to many.
Sadly, with running comes injuries and a startlingly high percentage, up to 65%, of runners are affected by injury every year.
However, many of these injuries are preventable. Physiotherapists spend much of their time educating clients, that all need to adopt a multifaceted approach to their sport. It requires a small investment in time to reap large benefits.
Incorporating strength training, allowing adequate recovery time and using tools such as foam rollers, can all be beneficial in preventing injuries, even at the beginner level.
One of the main causes of injury is because our bodies are ill prepared to handle the physical demands of the activity. Especially now. Many lead sedentary lives and muscles and joints aren not ready for to jump into an aggressive training plan.
When it comes to building an injury resistant body, remember this analogy: Do not let your engine outpace your chassis! What that means, is that you cannot let your aerobic fitness, (endurance), outpace your structural fitness, (bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles). If you do, you are setting yourself up for injury.
Injury prevention is via completing strength work. Strength will support your aerobic fitness as you continue to increase mileage and speed to your workouts. Without adequate strength, you will get injuries.
There are several components:
Dynamic warm-ups: These are short, simple routines that employ dynamic movements to help prepare your body to run. Studies have shown that dynamic warm ups are more effective than static stretching and help reduce post workout muscle soreness.
Dynamic cooldowns: Just like the warmup routines, these are a short and simple set of exercises that help your body cool down after your run. They help build flexibility in important areas like your hips, glutes and hamstrings.
Core and strength routines: Strength routines that focus on the core, hips and glutes are essential to prevent injury. Weak glutes are frequently to blame for running injuries.
Proper buildup: While it is not always essential to stick with the 10% rule when it comes to increasing mileage, you do want to make sure you do not try to take on too much, too fast.
Proper recovery: Easy days and rest days are essential. These are critical to helping your body recover and absorb the previous days training.
INJURY PREVENTION MYTHS
The RIGHT shoe for your foot type
We have long been told that the type of shoe each of us needs in order to run healthy is based on how much we pronate or how much your foot rolls inward. Runners who overpronate, or roll inward more aggressively, have typically been directed toward heavier, motion-control shoes.
However, a recent study in theBritish Journal of Sports Medicine shows that this is a myth. In fact, the best way to determine what type of shoe works best for you involves asking an extraordinarily simple question: Is it comfortable? Keep your shoe selection simple, and don not be swayed by fancy new technology. If the shoe fits well and feels good, wear it.
Avoiding injury is easier for those with GOOD running form
Changing your running form, also a widely discussed concept, can have varying results when it comes to injury prevention. For most of us, making a major overhaul to our running form is unnecessary and inadvisable.
One related concept might prove helpful. Studies show that increasing your stride rate, (how many steps you take per minute), can be an effective tool. By shortening your stride and taking more steps per minute, you may lower the risk of injury by reducing the impact stresses with each foot strike.
20 MINUTE STRENGTH ROUTINE FOR RUNNERS
This simple routine can help you get started on the path to injury prevention.
The following set of exercises will help runners of all ability levels build strength and prevent injuries.
These moves address areas that are commonly weak in runners, especially for those who sit at a desk all day.
Performing 2 sets of this routine should only take up to 20 minutes. Weights can be added to make it more challenging.
1. Static Lunge (10 - 20 repetitions per leg)
Ensure you have good technique. Your knee should not pass over the front of your toes of the front foot, as you perform the dip.
If you have good control and technique, you could change to Forward Lung, Reverse Lunge, Lateral and Diagonal Lunges. Squeeze the gluteals.
2. Step Ups (10 reps per leg)
Stand in front of a step or bench that is 1 to 2 feet high. Step up with your right foot until your leg is straight. Maintain a tall posture, and step down with the left foot. Repeat on the other side. Ensure you squeeze the gluteal muscles as you are pushing upwards.
3. Pistol Squats (5 - 10 reps per leg)
Stand on your right leg with your arms straight out in front of you, then slowly squat down so your right thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Do not let the knee cap pass over the front of the toes. Keep the motion slow and controlled, then return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Squeeze the gluteals.
4. Single Leg Deadlifts (10 - 20 reps)
Stand tall, then bend forward from the hip, (not the spine), while standing on your left leg and extending your right leg behind you for balance. Return to standing by activating the glutes.
5. Push Ups (10 reps)
Rest your weight on your palms and toes with your hands shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight and lower your body until your chest reaches the ground, then push back up. To modify, rest your weight on your knees instead of on your toes. Pull the tummy on and keep the shoulder blades set slightly back and down.
6. Marching Bridge (30 - 60 seconds)
Lie face up with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips and contract your glutes so you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Straighten one leg, hold for 2 - 3 seconds, and repeat on the other side. If your hamstrings spasm, rest. Hamstrings will be over active if your glutes are not doing their job. The hamstring spasm should settle with time as the glutes get stronger.
7. Plank (30 - 90 seconds)
Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below your shoulders and arms parallel to the body, about shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight and hold. Such the lower tummy up and on.
OTHER INJURY PREVENTION EXTRAS
1. Foam rollers
2. Good nutrition
FAQs ABOUT INJURY PREVENTION
1. I am not injured right now. Do I need to do these extra workouts?
Yes! Because we are talking about injury prevention.
2. What is the time commitment?
Prevention of an injury always takes less time than recovery. Investing a small amount of time now can save you days or weeks of downtime and rehab work. The time commitment is minimal. Once you learn some simple warm up, cool down and strength exercises, you will find it easily becomes part of your regular routine. Warm up and cool down routines take about 5 to 15 minutes. A 15 to 20 minute strength routine performed twice weekly can provide significant benefits.
Here are a few example routines to help you get started:
The Standard Core Routine (Core workout)
The ITB Rehab Routine (Strength workout)
The Mattock Warm-up (Dynamic warm up)