Running has developed into one of the most lucrative and exciting sports out there today. People spend hours of their week pounding the pavement, running tempo’s and chasing hills. The number of runner’s signing up for races and the number of new races seems to be climbing each and every year. Runners, however, are also prone to many injuries (yours truly is no exception) that other athletes rarely experience. Here are seven different tips to help prevent injuries and to help runners of all kinds continue to enjoy that which we live to do day in and day out.
Footwear: Always invest in the proper footwear. Many runners fall into the trap of buying the most expensive running shoe, assuming that it would most benefit their body. This is not true. Every runner runs differently. Some runners like thick-soled shoes, some like thin-soled shoes, and some prefer no shoes at all. A runner must experiment with all types of shoes until they find something that they like and that provides the amount of support necessary for their foot and running style. Find that shoe, and then stick with it for good.
Training: Second, runners (especially new runners) should be conservative as they build up their mileage. One must never assume that the more they run, the better they will become. A runner should gradually build up his training from a base; many experts suggest no more than a 10% increase in overall mileage per week.
Sickness: Thirdly, in order to avoid injury, runners must not do too much when sick. Depending on the severity of the sickness, a runner may even have to skip a few days to recover before pounding the pavement again. Remember, it’s better to miss one or two days due to sickness than two months due to injury.
Variety: Mix it up some. Do not run the same loop at the same speed on the same days every week. Doing so will strain the exact same muscles and never allow them to rest and recover. By running longer and slower one day, shorter and faster another day, and moderately another day, a runner will circumvent many of the injuries that assault even the most veteran runners.
Rest: Fifth, rest resembles the sickness tip extremely closely. Running seven days a week will not help all runners. Of course, the pro runners run twice a day, seven days a week, but most of society does not have the time nor the talent to do so. Resting or cross-training two, maybe three times a week will give the body and the mind time to recover for the next day of hard work. While resting, look for a solid brace to help your joints recover, for example, if your ACL is hurting, look for a good to get your knee adjusted and well rested before you hit the road again.
Stretching: Running doctors differ on the idea of stretching. Many of them agree that a runner should stretch often, but they disagree on whether it should be after or before the run. Explore both options for static stretching. Also, do dynamic stretching twice a week on the easy days to build up flexibility and muscle. Good dynamic stretches include high knees, butt-kickers, skips for height, skips for distance, etc. And if you don’t own a foam roller, go get yourself one and make fast friends with it.
Common Sense: Finally, this one speaks for itself. If one finds that he has trouble running a short distance without a nagging pain in his knee, leg, thigh, or other body part, then he should know to rest. Sometimes running through an injury will help it heal itself, but more often than not, it just makes it much worse. Smart runners utilize common sense and avoid the injuries that the tough runners always seem to acquire.
In conclusion, injuries can sometimes be unavoidable. Some runners observe all these seven tips and more, and they still find themselves with painful injuries. The best thing to do is rest up, let it heal, and then hop back on the street for more.
Happy running everyone!