Although running is a time – efficient method, it is also highly injury prone. It is estimated that 65% of runners have at least one injury during the first year of running . The common running injuries are runner’s knee, hamstrings and calf injuries. To reduce the risk of injury and to improve your performance in 2013, follow these proven techniques used by professional runners and advocated by sports medicine professionals.
1. Progress slowly
The most common risk of injury is sudden increase in mileage during the first few months of training. It is important to give time for your body to adapt to the increased stress of running, especially if you are running on hard surfaces. There are plenty of websites which give detailed weekly programme to increase your running time. One of my favourite is the free NHS couch to 5k podcast series and it comes with good music, too !
2. Dynamic warm-up
Warming up increases blood flow to boost oxygen and fuel supply to your muscles. It is the best way to prime your muscles and to lubricate synovial fluid into your joints. Warm up with dynamic movements such as jumping jacks, heel flicks and high knee raises. Studies have shown that dynamic movements are more efficient to prevent injury than static stretches.
3. Strength equals stamina
Although running is classified as a pure endurance event, modern athletes appreciate the importance of maintaining the strength of the leg muscles. It is important to spend at least once a week on body weights exercises to improve your leg strength and propulsion force while running . Some effective leg exercises are squats, lunges, step – ups and heel raises.
4. Don’t forget your hamstrings and calf
Repeated running can lead to tight hamstrings and calves. A tight hamstring can lead to back strain and a tight calf can lead to knee injury due to the lack of mobility in the joints. Regular use of foam roller can help to reduce the tight knots in the muscle and can be used as part of the cool-down.
5. Rest smart : Time for recovery
It is important to cycle in recovery week as part of your training. Studies suggest that you should take one week break from regular running every 6- 8 weeks (based on your intensity of training), to rejuvenate your body, muscle and stress hormones. This will enable your body to recover, avoid overtraining and come back harder and with bigger performance gains.
The body is an amazing machine but it is not indestructible. Many runners have had their training regime derailed through overdoing it or by faulty technique. By following these proven methods, you can reduce your injury risk while enjoying the health benefits of running.
Benoy Mathew, Certified Physiotherapist
Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the article. Any content or information provided is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk. Neither the author, model, nor its operators or posters bears any responsibility thereof.
Images: © Benoy Mathew, Model: Chris Maynard
main image: © Danielle Walquist Lynch