Runners enjoy their sport immensely. But what if your passion for running leads you to excess in the form of injury? No one likes being deprived of what they most enjoy. But that’s exactly what will happen without an intelligent plan to avoid injury. Here are 5 simple steps you should know and live by in order to avoid injuries:
During a typical run your feet can hit the ground 1,000 or more times. For that reason it makes sense to invest in proper running shoes: these are the only things between your legs and the ground on each of those thousands of steps.
There is no one-size-fits-all rule for how often to replace shoes. Some runners’ shoes wear down after 300-400 miles, while other runners can get 1,000 or more miles out of their shoes. Consulting with a local shoe store which caters to runners is a good way to determine how often to replace your shoes, as well as what type of running shoe fits your biomechanics. Paying attention to footwear is an important way to avoid injury.
Running with bad form is another way that runners get injured. If you strike the ground too hard with your heel, or run unevenly with the wrong leg swing or unbalanced posture, you increase your risk for injury. And although these may seem like small errors, a small error multiplied by 1,000 strides per mile equals a possible injury.
It may be worthwhile to have someone videotape you while running and consult with a sports doctor or a local coach to smooth out any deficiencies in your form. It’s a small effort that could pay big dividends in the form of avoiding injury.
Flexibility goes together with proper form. If you have very tight calves, you might be at risk for Achilles tendonitis, as the tight muscles will start to place burdens on other parts of the body. The same goes for tight hamstrings and injuries to your quadriceps, or tight IT bands and back muscles causing problems.
Make use of some basic tools like a foam roller, an occasional sports massage, or simple active stretching techniques. These can help prevent injuries caused by lack of flexibility.
It can be great fun to run fast and compete. But it’s also important to limit very intense workouts. Carrying out too many high intensity interval sessions has the potential to damage the body. Muscles and tendons are stretched far beyond their normal range of motion during a sprinting or uphill repetition workout, which means the risk of injury is higher. Intense sessions should be spaced out with some recovery days in between to help avoid injury.
You can stop many injuries in their tracks by resting at the proper times. Many runners have turned what would have been a minor setback into a long-term injury because they pushed through when they should have rested. If you feel a nagging injury hanging around for a few days, take a rest day. It’s much better to take a few days off and come back healthy, then push through and wind up with a major injury.
Injuries: A Plan of Attack
Injury can be a runner’s worst nightmare. But they don’t have to be inevitable. Having a simple plan of preventative attack is a means of avoiding injury. By taking a few simple steps outlined above, you can avoid being relegated to the sidelines and continue to enjoy what you love to do.