Useful Tips to Prevent Running Injuries (Part 3)
There are various schools of thought on what constitutes a good running style. My job is not to coach you how to run, but here are a couple of tips relating to running technique that can help prevent injury.
TIP 1: LISTEN TO YOUR FEET WHEN YOU RUN.
Your feet should not make a lot of sound when contacting the ground. If your feet make a loud sound when contacting the ground it means your bones and joints are absorbing the shock not your muscles. This puts you at a greater risk of overuse injury and means your running is less efficient. Your muscles should absorb the impact; this energy is then stored and then used to propel you during the push off stage of your running gait. In other words your muscles act like springs absorbing energy and reusing it.
TIP 2: KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS RELAXED.
Tense neck and shoulders when running are a common cause of neck and shoulder pain particularly in new runners. The first step to solving this problem is to be aware that you are tensing your shoulder muscles. Next time you run be aware of your shoulder position. If they are raised up toward your ears just allow them to relax and fall away from your ears. Be careful not to pull them down as this may increase tension in a different set of muscles. If your shoulders are tense try shaking them out.
If you do experience shoulder pain during running; stop running and stretch.
TIP 3: MOVE YOUR ARMS NOT YOUR TORSO WHEN RUNNING.
Your upper body will twist slightly during running, this is normal but the movement should be small. There are two main causes of over-rotation of the trunk during running:
- You have poor activation of your oblique muscles (muscles at the sides of your waist). To remedy this problem you need to perform specific activation exercise of the obliques. It is worth noting that poor activation of the obliques is not necessarily a question of poor strength but rather one of control.
- You are not moving your shoulders correctly. Your arms should move in a forward to back movement. Often runners keep their shoulder joints stiff or they move their arms from side to side. Both will result in body rotation during running. This can put stress on the lower back as well as compromising your lower body mechanics. It can also impact on your performance as you are expending energy in side movements rather than in forward motion.
6. Rest Days
Rest is an important part of your training. This allows you to recover from training and is when most adaptation actually occurs to bring about improvements in fitness. Don’t get too excited you still need to work-out in the first place to earn your rest.
TIP: ACTIVE REST WILL INCREASE YOUR RECOVERY
Stretching, massage, using a foam roller, relaxing will all aid recover.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a running injury, you may find that rest, stretching and a gradual return to training along with adhering to the above principles may be sufficient to successfully manage your condition. If your injury persists, you may find it helpful to seek the advice of a health professional who is experienced in treating and managing such injuries.
Good luck with your training and remember, prevention is better than cure!