Running Injury Prevention
There is no doubt that running is one of the best ways to stay in shape – but for many people, regular running is fraught with repeated injuries. Running injury prevention is therefore essential if you are to be able to keep running long term.
The good news, however, is that for every horror story you hear of someone who has sustained and injury running, there are also stories of people who run every day for years without getting injured.
The reality is that most running injuries occur when people try to do too much too soon – almost literally trying to run before they can walk. The reason it’s so easy to do that with running is that in general, almost all of us can run – therefore it’s really easy to overdo it.
By taking the simple steps outlined below, you can ensure that you are able to enjoy many years of injury free running.
Start slowly: Many people get injured because they run too fast. Quite simply, the faster you run the greater the strain you put on your muscles, joints and bones. If you are ten years old, then everything is still very flexible and elastic – even the bones aren’t fully hardened – but if you are thirty (or older!) you are a mass of old injuries, weaknesses, and tight spots. So when you do begin running, make it a gentle jog. Don’t be afraid to amble, to stop at road junctions, take your time. By allowing your body to get used to running, you will lay the foundations for faster running later.
Walk, don’t run! The only way to introduce running is gradually. It is best to start by mixing running and walking – at first you should be doing about two thirds walking, one third running – and gradually build up the running sections over the course of several weeks.
Don’t run every day: When you first start running, try to avoid running on consecutive days. By allowing your muscles and joints to recover for 48 hours between runs, you will dramatically reduce your likelihood of injuries.
Run on different surfaces: Not all surfaces are equal for running. Concrete is the harshest, then tarmac, then natural surface such as mud, grass or sand. Try to run on a variety of surfaces to reduce the shock on your body.
Cross-train: Running is great, but by mixing in other sports such as swimming, biking, or weight training, you can build the muscles that support your joints without the pounding that running subjects them to.
Wear the right shoes: If you are going to run regularly, you need a good pair of running shoes. Don’t settle for a cheap pair of trainers form the supermarket, go to a specialist running shop and have someone fit you with an appropriate pair of running shoes.
By training smart and listening to your body, you can make running a safe and enjoyable part of your life for years to come.