Getting hurt sucks. The percentage of runners that get injured every year is shocking. In fact, if you have been injured by running (or still nursing an injury), then you are not alone. A poll by the famous Runner’s World magazine, revealed that more than 60 percent of its readers reported chronic injuries.
Here is a list of some of the most common running injuries out there:
- Runners knee
- IT band syndrome
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Compartment syndrome
- Stress fractures
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ankle sprains
I can go on and on. The list is quite long.
So what is it that you need to do in order to prevent these ailments?
The answer is simple: Abide by the injury-prevention laws I’m sharing with you below.
Image Credit – Gerald Keil via Flickr
A Past of Injuries
I learned this the hard way. For nearly five years, my running routine was constantly disrupted by runners knee, IT band syndrome and ankle sprains that prevented from reaching my full running potential.
I was super irritated, and I didn’t know how to handle it.
But once I put my mind into it and learned more about injury prevention through research, trial and error, and some luck, I was able to end to my misery and run (relatively) injury free.
Therefore, today I’m gonna share with you the 8 cardinal rules that will help you run strong, stay healthy and perform your best without nagging pains and injuries.
What Can you Do to Prevent Running Injury?
Here are 8 laws to help you stay injury free on your next runs. Use these short tips to reduce your risks of running injuries.
1st Law: Know Your Limits
This is, by far, the cardinal rule when it comes to avoiding all kinds of sports injuries. This is what’s commonly referred to as doing too much, too soon, too fast
Your body needs time to recover and get used to increases in speed or mileage. Therefore, if you push it here, you will be flirting with disaster.
First off, know your threshold. I don’t know about your threshold, it could be 20 miles per week, or 50, but once you go over it, you will be heading in the wrong direction.
Give your body enough time to adapt to a new training load and give your muscle and joints the recovery time they need. Take one day off a week, and space out those hard runs—think hill repeats and sprints—with some easier recovery runs.
Use the 10 percent rule. Don’t increase your running mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
Make sure also to keep track of your mileage, and keep tabs on your pains, aches, energy levels and injuries.
Take plenty of rest. Make sure to add recovery days, and weeks to your training plan by taking a complete break from training both physically and mentally. During the off time, you can choose to do cross-training activities with minimum impact, such as swimming, low intensity biking, or, my favorite, Yoga.
Image Credit – Xavier Wallash via Flickr
2nd Law: Listen to your Body
Serious injuries happen when you have no idea on the kind of a damage you are inflicting on your body.
Most running injuries don’t happen overnight (falling flat on your face being the exception here). They don’t come out of nowhere and blindside you. Most running injuries come with early warning signs—discomfort, soreness, aches, and persistent pain,—but it’s up to you to listen to them and take right measures.
If you run through pain and injuries, then you are inviting more trouble to your life.
The solution here is simple. Have an early warning system to pain and do your best to get to the roast of what’s causing it.
So at the first sign of discomfort, whether it’s pain that gets worse during a run or forces you to change your running gait, take some days off and revaluate your training volume and approach.
Don’t get me wrong, aches soreness and running go hand in hand, but if the pain persists and/or it’s taking a toll on your running and well being, then you need start paying attention, right now!
In a nutshell, if your body hurts, do not run. That’s it.
3rd Law: Strength Train
Strength training can increase your structural fitness, which helps your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones endure the high impact nature of running.
For instance, strengthening the hip muscles—mainly the adductors, abductors, and gluteus maximum—can boost leg stability all the way to the ankles and prevent knee pain and injuries.
Therefore, make sure to strengthen your lower body muscles, especially your quads, glutes and hip muscles.
Here are the runners-oriented strength routines you need:
4th Law: Stretch your Body
Just like strength training, stretching is another off-road thing you can do to proof your body against common running injury.
Current research finds no link between stretching an injury prevention, but this is something I will bet my money on, and I strongly urge you to boost your range of motion to help you lessen discomfort that could potentially lead to injuries.
When you improve your range of your motion of your running muscles, your body will move more efficiently and have less risks of straining these areas.
As a runner, you will tend to be tight in the hamstrings, calves and glutes, so in turn, you are more likely to get injured in and around those areas. Tight hamstrings can lead to knee pain other trouble. Tight calves are also bad since they have been linked to plantar fascia and Achilles tendon injuries, in study.
Lucky for you, I have written a lot about the subject, and here are 4 flexibility routines that can help stretch you running muscles and help you prevent injury in the process.
Image Credit – Kate Jacobson via Flickr
5Th Law: R.I.C.E
This is should be your first line of defense against any nagging pain, ache or injury.
The R.I.C.E method, standing for rest, ice, compress, and elevate, can reduce inflammation, ease pain, and protected damaged tissues, leading to a faster healing rate. So when you have got aching or painful joints, or muscles, look no further than R.I.C.E for immediate treatment.
This method is most effective when done immediate following an ache or injury.
For example, if your knee hurts, take a few days off from running (Rest). Ice the painful area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three to four times a day.
Plus, elevate the injured knee to limit swelling. For more, you can also use compression, using an ACE bandage or compression socks, which can help reduce inflammation and provide with instant pain relief.
6th Law: Run on Proper Surfaces
Running on hard and/or uneven surface, like concrete or asphalt, puts undue stress on ligament and joint. And as a runner, last thing you want is more impact.
If you do the bulk of your running on these surfaces, then risks of medial tibia stress syndrome, stress fractures and other overuse injuries are very high.
Do the bulk of your running on softer surfaces, be it path through the park, a dirt trail, a bike path, grass road and other similarly yielding surfaces. You can also head to the local track for a more firm and flat surface.
7th Law: Get the Right Shoe
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Sure, running does not require a lot of equipment, but the shoes are still a MUST.
So make sure to have the right pair on.
Head to a specialty-running store and have your gait and foot type analyzed by expert stuff so they can help you pick the perfect pair.
Plus, make sure also to replace your running shoes at least every 6 months—that’s about 400 to 500 miles of running. This, of course, depends your weight, size, foot strike, shoe type, and weekly mileage.
Image Credit – Gerard Keil via Flickr
8th Law: Proper Running Form
Poor form can limit your performance, and lead to undue pain and injury, leading to shin splints, back pain, limited performance and so on.
Conversely, proper form will also help you run more efficiently, so you would run farther and faster with less fatigue.
Here are a few pointers to help you develop and keep good form:
- Run in a relaxed manner with the least tension possible. As you run, do your best to keep your entire body relaxed the entire time, especially your neck, shoulder, arms and hands. And never clench your fists since this can lead to tightness in the arms, shoulders, and neck.
- Keep looking ahead. You should be gazing at the ground about 15 to 20 feet ahead of you. Never stare at your feet.
- Land on your midfoot. I used to be a heel striker, and that limited me in so many ways. Nonetheless, things changed for the best when I started consciously working on landing on the middle of my foot, then rolling through to the front of the toes. And I urge you to do the same.
- Point your feet straight head. Running with your feet pointed in or out could increase the risks of injuries, and it’s really inefficient. So make sure to point your toes in the direction you want to go.
Preventing running injuries is not that hard once you put into practice these 8 principles. So make sure to put into action what you just learned ASAP; otherwise you will be inviting more pain and injury into your running life.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Mike Wong via Flickr