Knowing how to run injury free is critical if you hope to run often. Now that many of us are once again hitting the streets due to easing lockdown restrictions, preventing injuries is important. It is worth knowing that the act of running itself does not necessarily lead to injuries. It is rather the way that we run which ultimately determines whether we develop debilitating conditions.
Running-related injuries can be devoted into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute injuries occur from one-off events and the pain can normally be pinpointed. Chronic injuries may require months or even years to develop; often caused by seemingly minor problems. Let us look at some common scenarios to appreciate how to run injury free.
The Top 5 Running Injuries
To better understand the risks involved, it is first important to look at a handful of running-related injuries. Here are five common conditions:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Runner’s knee
While the severity of these injuries can vary from individual to individual, they can still have a massive toll on your ability to run and in some cases, on your general lifestyle.
How to Run Injury Free: A Look at Some Common Reasons Why Pain May Occur
Notwithstanding acute injuries, many pains and strains will occur from chronic issues; especially those which are not treated with targeted physiotherapy techniques. Therefore, it is important to examine a handful of scenarios that can lead to injuries if not corrected.
Many of those who wish to run injury free fail to appreciate a simple point. This involves sessions that are entirely too intense for their current fitness levels. The body requires time to adapt to new challenges and those who increase their training time by more than ten per cent each week are placing themselves at a greater risk of becoming injured. In other words, patience goes a long way towards building strength and endurance.
Failing to Take Advantage of Physiotherapy Services
Some runners ignore minor problems and believe that these aches and pains will fade away over time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A qualified physiotherapist will quickly be able to determine the cause of such issues. He or she can then provide targeted recommendations and/or treatment options. From a cutting-edge gait analysis to an informative orthotics session, a host of options are available to runners. After all, it is much easier to rectify a minor issue before it evolves into a more serious problem.
Poor Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning are important for any type of fitness enthusiast. However, it can be argued that they are more crucial for runners. Running incorporates a host of different muscle groups that need to always work in unison. If a muscle is overloaded or weaker than the others, sustaining an injury is more likely to occur.
This is learning how to run injury free often involves performing specific exercises such as squats, lunges, leg extensions, and calf raises immediately before a session.
A Lack of Flexibility
It is an unfortunate fact that many runners tend to overlook the importance of stretching. Poor flexibility can lead to a plethora of potentially serious running-related issues with both the muscles and the joints (calf strains and Achilles tendon injuries are some common examples).
Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate some basic stretches into your overall fitness regimen; even on days when you do not plan to run. Please note that certain movements (such as hip flexor stretches and wall-assisted soleus stretches) can be performed from the comfort of your own home. Those who are experiencing notable levels of tightness within a discrete area should likewise consult with a physiotherapist, as a deep tissue massage may provide amazing results.
Short Recovery Times
The body will require time to recover after any training session. Knowing how to run injury free therefore involves appreciating the advantages of rest. Like other athletes, runners can sometimes choose to ignore these observations and continue to push the envelope.
Unfortunately, running through injury will only lead to further problems in the future. As opposed to becoming frustrated with such downtime, why not instead schedule a relaxing sports massage with a physiotherapist or a running injury clinic? Recovery is crucial in terms of mitigating the chances of becoming injured.
Frequent training sessions can also lead to problems. The chances of incurring an injury are heightened when repeating high-intensity training sessions on a back-to-back basis. Muscles, tendons and joints will find it difficult to adapt to this type of repetitive pressure. This is like a weightlifter who chooses to perform two sessions of the chest without allowing the body time to heal.
It is therefore wise to compartmentalise a running regimen. For instance, one day can be devoted to speed while another may instead focus on endurance, different types of terrain or footwork. Those who have learned how to run injury free are always eager to employ a bit of much-needed variety.
Not Providing the Body with the Proper Fuel
Just as powerlifters need to consume plenty of protein and carbohydrates, runners must always provide their bodies with the proper fuel. While protein and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are important, runners should also replenish their glycogen stores immediately following a training session.
These often come from healthy foods such as brown rice, skinned fruits and wheat bran are some tasty options to consider. It is also prudent to take a collagen supplement (especially for older runners), as this material will help to prevent common running foot injuries such as tendon strains.
Naturally, drinking plenty of water is likewise essential. Fully hydrated muscles are less likely to suffer from a strain or a tear.
Imbalances Between Different Muscle Groups
There can be times when a specific muscle group becomes more dominant than another. This may occur between the muscles of the legs (such as the quadriceps and the hamstrings) or it could result from one side of the body being out of balance with the other.
In either situation, an undue amount of strain will be placed upon certain muscles (the body always tries to automatically correct such imbalances).
As a result, the chances of experiencing chronic pain and discomfort will increase. Knowing how to run injury free should therefore involve determining whether such imbalances are present. It is wise to speak with a physiotherapist, as simple techniques such as a gait analysis can quickly detect any issues.
Returning to Running Too Quickly After an Injury
No one enjoys being forced to remain sedentary as the result of an injury. While this is indeed a frustrating situation, returning to a normal routine too quickly is one way to further exacerbate the situation. This is why an acute injury (such as pain in a knee tendon) may develop into a more chronic issue that requires ongoing treatment. Simply stated, allowing time for rehabilitation following an injury is the best way to guarantee a full recovery.
Adopting an Educated and Proactive Mindset
Appreciating how to run injury free will take time and a more flexible perspective. This is just as true if you are training for an upcoming marathon or you simply employ running as a means to remain fit.
However, there are also instances when the advice of a professional physiotherapist can represent an invaluable asset. You may also be able to take advantage of targeted treatment options such as dry needling and corrective running shoes.
Are you concerned that you have recently injured yourself? Might you instead be dealing with a chronic injury? These are two of the many reasons to book a session with one of the IMTA trained experts at PHYSIOMOTION3D. We will be more than happy to discuss your options in further detail and as always, we can provide the answers that you have been looking for. You might also like our articles on ‘does a sauna help sore muscles‘ and ‘tips for getting into running‘ These are great articles for new runners.