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Useful Tips to Prevent Running Injuries (Part 1)

Many runners will experience injury at some point in their running career. Hopefully for most these will be minor and will not affect them greatly. For others, these could threaten to prevent them from enjoying their sport temporarily or, in the worst cases, permanently. The purpose of this article is to provide you with basic information and advice that is easy to implement which can help you to avoid many running injuries. Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to running injuries!

1. Progress your training gradually

Running places stress on the various soft tissues of the body. These tissues include muscle, bone, ligaments, cartilage, fascia and the capsules that surround joints. Get the balance right and these stresses stimulate the tissue to become stronger. Get the balance wrong by over training and it leads to break down of the tissues which can result in injury.

TIP: FOLLOW THE 10 PERCENT RULE.

Do not increase your overall workload by more than 10% per week. There are three different ways that you can increase your workload. These include duration, intensity and frequency. It's best to increase only one variable at a time. So for example if you keep the intensity, and number of training sessions the same you may increase your distance by 10%. Or you may decide to keep the distance and frequency the same but increase the intensity by increasing your speed or adding in some hill runs.

2. Train Consistently

Training consistently can be a challenge especially with busy life styles. No matter how dedicated most runners are, they will miss a run from time to time. This is fine as long as you don’t make a habit of it. In my experience the newbie runner often has an all or nothing attitude. If they do miss one or two training sessions they can become demotivated and think “what’s the point”. As a result they skip their next session. The following week they feel guilty and return to training. Sometimes they will double their efforts in an attempt to make up for lost training time. This stop/start approach to training places extra stress on the body thus increasing the risk of injury. It also minimises improvements in fitness progression and can cause demotivation.

TIP 1: DO A QUICK SESSION IF YOU ARE REALLY SHORT OF TIME.

If you are really short of time it’s still worth getting out for a 15-20 min run. Especially for the newbie runner you can still improve your fitness level with short runs. More importantly, it will make you feel better and help keep the momentum of training. Missing one training session can lead to a higher risk of you missing another.

TIP 2: IF YOU FALL OFF THE WAGON GET BACK ON SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

If you do miss one or two sessions, don’t allow this to be an excuse to miss another. Use it as the reason to train rather than not to train.

TIP 3: DON’T PLAY CATCH UP.

If you do have a bad training week, don’t try to make up for it by doubling your training the next week.

3. Cross train

Our bodies are designed to run but they are also designed to perform lots of other movements and activities. Running is great but it does have its limits; it’s true what they say: “use it or lose it”. If we don’t mobilise our joints fully we may lose the ability to move them through their full range of motion. This also applies to other fitness attributes such as strength, power, balance, endurance, proprioception and agility. Cross training helps to balance these various fitness attributes and therefore decreases the risk of injury. It also helps to keep training fresh, varied and interesting.

TIP 1: PERFORM TYPES OF EXERCISE THAT YOU ENJOY.

I think this one speaks for its self. If you enjoy it you are more likely to do it.

TIP 2: INCLUDE SOME KIND OF UPPER BODY ACTIVITY.

This can include strength training, going on a cross trainer, rowing or a medicine ball work out. Basically anything that makes you engage your upper body during exercise. Such exercise will also increase bone density in your upper body. This is particularly important for ladies, as it dramatically lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis.

TIP 3: INCLUDE AEROBIC ACTIVITIES.

Examples are rowing, using a cross trainer that has arm levers on it, boxing, aerobics and dancing. These help to improve your aerobic capacity which is vital for running. It is good to perform activities like rowing or using the cross trainer as you work your upper body and lower body at the same time. Both are low impact and add variation in movement patterns.

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