Running "injuries" occur in up to 79% of runners every year. (This researched stat is variable because "injuries" are difficult to define in the studies.) Pretty gloomy, right? Yep, but no need to panic or be fearful of running.
Reducing your risk of getting injured while running is all the rage right now. The experts in the running realm have doven deep to unravel the reason for this high risk of injury and continue to provide insight on how we can reduce our risk.
Here are ten strategies to minimize your risk gathered from a running expert, a well-respected running coach, strength & conditioning specialist & author Richard Blagrove:
Progress your weekly mileage and intensity slowly. Avoid increasing your volume of running by more than 10% each week.
Maximize rest & recovery. Your actual improvement occurs while your body rests. If your recovery time is too short, your muscles and tissues are likely to still be fatigued and damaged from your last training session. Ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
Eat well. A healthy balanced meal eaten pre and or post a training run will kick start your recovery process and ensure that the tissues you "damaged" during your run will heal quickly.
Improve the quality of your movement. Improve how you move during fundamental tasks such as squats, lunges, stepping up, and hopping. The more control your nervous system and body have over these simple movements, the more likely you will feel in control of your running.
Rectify muscular imbalances. Nobody is perfectly symmetrical, and strength and flexibility discrepancies are pretty standard. However, when an imbalance changes how you move, you will excessively overload certain joints. This can lead to injury.
Improve your posture. Regular strength training that emphasizes a good trunk position and mobility exercises that improve your ability to achieve more upright postures can reduce strain and improve coordination.
Stretch, move and foam roll regularly. Ensuring that your tissues remain supple so your joints can move through a normal range in an unrestrictive manner can help prevent injury.
Warm-up and cool down before and after every run. This simple strategy can offset the risk of injury long term.
Vary the surface and terrain you run on. Extreme changes in the landscape, such as concrete to sand, can be shocking and injury-provoking for your body. However, subtle changes from concrete to asphalt to woodland trails can provide the proper challenge to keep your body resilient and adaptable.
Increase your strength and resilience of connective tissue. Improving the control and coordination of your limbs using strength training techniques and enhancing the integrity of your bones and connective tissue has been proven to reduce your risk of injury.
This long list can feel overwhelming, especially to new-ish runners. Start by picking just one or two that you can focus on. Keep this list and try a few more. Over time, you will discover which strategies work best for you.
Aches and pains with running are inevitable because running is a demanding sport. However, with a few strategies, some support, and intuition, you CAN be a lifetime runner that feels confident and fantastic.
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