How can I prevent a running injury?

Each year between 37% and 56% of runners sustain an injury which stops them training consistently, seek professional help, or use medication - most of these are preventable. Below are some suggestions to help you prevent injury.

Twenty ways to avoid injury

  1. Wear appropriate running shoes and clothing for the terrain consider your visibility if running at night. If your trainers are worn out replace them.
  2. Posture: stand tall, avoid hunching or bending from the waist, shoulders should be relaxed and hips high
  3. Hydrate before you run, carrying a water bottle can affect your posture and is not recommended
  4. Take your time doing an adequate warm-up, make sure you warm the upper body too
  5. Do some dynamic drills (stretch after you have run) these should include side movements, walking on tiptoes and heels and mobilising the hips and ankles
  6. Calf and ankle strengthening exercises are recommended, so you avoid shin splints
  7. Make sure you stretch after a running session: hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves and back
  8. If you are starting out little and often is much better than irregular longer runs
  9. Keep a running log, especially if you are training for a specific event, this can be referred to if things do not go to plan
  10. Slowly build up your mileage, do not do too much too soon, in the past, it was recommended that you increased your training load by 10% a week, but this is very much up to the individual and beginners should increase mileage very gradually to avoid injury
  11. Do some strength and conditioning work (twice a week is optimal) swimming, cycling, Pilates, tai chi are activities which complement running, a balance board can help improve ankle stability and balance.
  12. If you are doing an interval session, make sure you build in deceleration zones, increasing speed if you are not used to it can cause you to strain a muscle
  13. Warm down to get your heart rate down and prevent blood pooling, it will also help dissipate any lactic acidosis and speed up your recovery
  14. Take care of your feet, after a shower carefully dry them to avoid athletes foot, look for corns which may be a sign of rubbing and hot spots which may develop into blisters. If they feel stiff and achy try scrunching up a towel with your bare feet to give them some exercise
  15. Avoid sitting too much, it causes your hip flexors to become both tight and weak, in addition, it can make your glutes switch off if your glutes are lazy other muscles take over which can cause lower back pain and other stresses and strains
  16. Have a warm bath with Epsom salts after a session
  17. Have a sports massage
  18. Rest, if you are a beginner try not to run on consecutive days, adaptations take place when you rest and it takes time
  19. If something doesn’t feel right, deal with it before it becomes an issue, avoid googling your symptoms!
  20. If you seek professional advice from a coach, physio etc makes sure you give them a full history of current and past injuries/issues, for example, a shoulder injury, historical back pain or a car accident may be very relevant to current issues

11 February, 2020

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