Maybe you’re stuck in lockdown and the gyms are closed. The sun is shining so you decide to turn to running to maintain your fitness. This is great, running is awesome for cardiovascular and mental health. It is however important to ensure you are listening to your body and adopting the appropriate strategies to prevent little ‘niggles’ or injuries from occurring.
Use these 3 tips to help prevent injury and to help you get the most out of your running.
1. Start small and build up gradually
If you are beginning running for the first time, or if you are returning to running it is important you do so gradually. It is a good idea to start out with a walk with small intermittent bouts of running before you build to a continuous run.
According to research, as a general rule it is ideal to keep your weekly running distance within 80-130% of the distance you have run over the previous 4 weeks. Therefore, you want to make sure you are not increasing your overall run distance by more than 30% each month. This will ensure you are allowing your body time to adapt to the running loading you are placing on it. As you can see in this graph, by ensuring you don’t increase your running workload by more than 30%, it decreases your injury risk dramatically.
2. Maintain Strength:
It is also important that the muscles that help you run are strong enough to do so. Did you know that at least 3-8 times your bodyweight goes through your knees when you run? This means it is so important to have strength in your leg muscles to allow you to run safely. Hamstring bridges, squats, lunges and calf raises can be great exercises to help you prevent injury when running.
If you are unsure what exercises you need to help you with your running, book in with one of our physios so they can assess you and provide you with the appropriate preventative tools to help you get the most out of your running.
3. Maintain Mobility:
Do you have good mobility in your hips, legs and feet?
Stretching can be a great way to help with your recovery after a run and can be a great way to preserve mobility in the vital joints in your body to prevent an injury from occurring. Most of the time we see that a lack of ankle mobility can lead to excessive forces being transferred into other parts of the foot, namely the midfoot and big toe joint. Conversely, we see that a lack of midfoot mobility can sometimes lead to overload of the achilles tendon or other muscles in the foot or ankle. Stretching out your calves, or rolling underneath your foot with a golf ball can help to keep your ankle and mid-foot nice and mobile for running.
If you have any questions on how to achieve your running goals while preventing injury, or if you don’t know where to start come and see us at Inspired Physiotherapy for an assessment.
- Blanch P, Gabbett TJ. Has the athlete trained enough to return to play safely? The acute: chronic workload ratio permits clinicians to quantify a player’s risk of subsequent injury. British journal of sports medicine. 2016;50(8):471-475.