10 top tips for staying injury free when running
Running injuries are the worst. They are frustrating, time consuming and mess with your head as well as your body. Not only do they take time away from running, they mean pain, expense, and most likely could have been avoided. Here’s how…
1/ Warm up properly
Everyone has a different idea about warming up. For some it’s a walk, a gentle jog or dynamic stretches. A warm up is just as important for your head as your body. It gives you time to focus and anticipate the run ahead. We like to use the rule – the shorter the run, the longer the warm up.
2/ Always listen to your body
Despite the fact that we all come with this inbuilt, always ready early warning system, we tend to use the override switch a lot. Our bodies are very good at telling us – we just have to learn to listen! If you aren’t feeling your best, have a cold, are in pain or just need to rest – listen to your body. It’s not laziness, it is injury prevention. One day missed will not make a lot of difference to your running, ignore and you may miss days or even weeks from your schedule.
3/ Make sure your shoes can do the job
Running shoes really do have a limited life span. They really do break down. How long do they last? Unfortunately, that can vary from runner to runner. It depends on how much running you do, where you run, how heavy you are, how you run. The general rule of thumb if about 500 miles. Start thinking about your new shoes between 350 and 400 miles then you have time to see what you need. Take your time and don’t buy your new shoes in a hurry.
4/ Never miss a rest day
These are part of your training schedule and just as important as your mid-week tempo run or long, slow Sunday run. Your muscles need time to recover, time to re-build and be stronger for your next run. Don’t feel guilty having rest days.
5/ Take care in the sun
As runners we all spend a lot of time outdoors and we should always consider sun damage to our skin and eyes. Not exactly an injury and it’s not going to stop you from running as such, but sunburn can be dangerous. It can cause permanent skin damage; even on cloudy days our skin is at risk from harmful rays. Consider wearing a light weight long sleeved tee, more and more manufacturers are giving their clothing UV protection ratings. Invest in a good sunscreen, pick a sports sunscreen that is water resistant, so it doesn’t run off when you sweat. If you don’t like wearing sunglasses, wear a peaked running cap to protect your eyes.
6/ Beat the stitch
Stitches can often curtail a run. Clench your fist and press it into the side with the pain, lean towards that side and slow the pace and exhale deeply. Food, posture, lack of core strength and breathing techniques are a few of the suggested causes of stitches. Try to get into a rhythm for your breathing. If you exhale on opposite foot strikes this will help to stop continually favouring one side. Eating too close to a run or not eating at all can also cause a stitch.
7/ Take preventative measures
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” One important preventative measure is a regular session with a sports therapist, even if you feel 100%. Having an MOT before an injury strikes will make all the difference! Running requires you to use the same muscles over and over again which can cause repetitive strain which leads to muscular imbalance and then injuries. Do your body a massive favour and come and see us before you’re already hurt.
8/ Do something else
Cross training is one of the best ways to prevent injury. Introduce a gym session, weights, swimming, cycling, or Nordic walking are all fantastic. Your body will thank you!
9/ Sports massage
Sports massage is a great way to ease off tight muscles and promote recovery. Applied properly, it is the most effective therapy for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. Regular treatment has been proven to help athletes prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse.
10/ Use a running log
Keep a note of your mileage and record how you feel, what you did and where you went. Logging your training sessions is also a great motivator for when you start running. When you feel you are not improving or still finding running hard, look back a couple of months and just see how far you have come. When you have an injury, check back in the log, you may find a trigger or be able to pinpoint when or how it started even though, at the time, it may not have seemed significant
Written by Cheryl, our Clinic Director