How to avoid Running Injury in 5 easy steps

The strongest predictive factor of developing a running injury is…..

You’ve been injured in the past.

For the 12 months after an injury, you’re at the highest risk of being injured again. The key is don’t get injured in the first place! Simple, right?

You will not truly understand your own love of running, until it is taken away.

Running injuries are one of the main reasons that runners stop running. Our team of physios in Glenelg understand this pain…read more about how we help runners here

If you are running regularly, or planning to increase your training, read on for advice to stay injury free.

1) Train according to your RECENT running experience

“If you don’t use it, you lose it”, as we are often reminded. You may have been a fantastic little athletics runner. If you have had a long break, it’s important that you choose your training level based on RECENT experience. If you’ve been out of running for a while you may need some extra time to build up running. Be careful that your body may not bounce up off the couch and take on a 12km City to Bay problem free.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been running 5km+ three times per week, you will cope much better when you have a 4 week holiday away from running. Consider sitting down and writing out what running specific activity you’ve been doing over the past 12 months. This will help you start planning your future realistic running goals.

Aim to figure out the average total mileage you’ve been running per week e.g. 15km each week over 3 training runs. Aim to increase your training load by a maximum of 10% per week (Macera et al 1989). If you’ve been averaging 15km/wk, you can add 1.5km to your running for next week.

This may look like:

3x 5.5km runs = 16.5km OR 1x 3km, 1x 6km + 1x 7.5km = 16.5km.

After increasing your training load by 5-10% per week for a few weeks, include a 2 week maintenance period, where you don’t increase mileage. This allows your body to adapt to the training load. The number of running sessions per week is less important that the total distance you cover. Although research suggests 2-5 runs per week may be less risky than 6-7 times per week (McKean et al 2006).

2) Change running terrain to avoid injury

Repetition is the enemy when trying to avoid running injury. Repeating the same route each run results in the same load being exerted in the same way each time you run. This can result in increased chance of overload and breakdown of your body.

Try to incorporate a mix of uphills, downhills, pavement, grass and trails. Be careful with running on soft sand as the instability can be very challenging. If you want to include soft sand running, add it in gradually. Start with running just short distances on the sand as part of longer pavement/grass runs. Gradually increase the time spent on the sand.

3) Change speed to build running strength

Incorporate shorter sessions at faster speeds e.g 4 x 800m. Also add longer slower sessions such as a 20mins jog at a slow, comfortable pace. Investing time in slower speed training is just as valuable as the higher intensity. Changing running speed allows your body to adapt to running, while varying how structures are absorbing the load. Always include a warm up and cool down around your training session.

4) Increase load gradually

Map out a rough plan for your training load, so you can monitor the gradual increase over time. Training load relates to both distance and running speed (intensity). If you’re focusing on building up speed over one particular week, ensure you cut back on distance and vice versa. The 10% rule (see point 1) above) is a good guide to keep your training on track. This is harder to apply if speed is your focus. You can still carefully monitor your speed progressions with a bit of clever maths.

5) Listen to your body

If you have had an injury in the past 12 months, listen out even more carefully to your bodies subtle hints. If something starts niggling, pay attention! Previous injury is one of the strongest predictive factors in developing a future running injury. If you’re fatigued, consider going for a shorter run, or adding in a rest day.

Weather, sleep, stress, work and physical training may all contribute to feeling fantastic, or feeling flat. Learn what your body is trying to tell you. Sometimes getting out for a short run can actually help you feel heaps better. If you’re exhausted, catch up on extra sleep or try a stretching session instead. Pushing on with running training when you’re exhausted, can contribute to poor technique and injury. Plus there is a higher chance of tripping or falling!

Enjoy what you’re doing, keep mixing it up, and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Life is better when you’re running, especially around Glenelg.

If you’re struggling with a running injury, book in to see one of our running physios here in Glenelg.

Check available appointment times on our Online Booking System by clicking here