Running and injuries. Sometimes it feels like these two can’t be separated from each other. Many beautiful days and summers have been lost because I was struggling with injuries in my foot or knee. Rest didn’t seem to work, after taking a month of complete rest, the first couple kilometers were enough to throw me back to the start. I decided to invest some time in myself, google, do research and talk to fellow runners. These are 5 lessons that I have learned that helped me to stay injury free in 2017!
A lot of us picked up running without prior running knowledge. It seems straightforward enough, buying a pair of shoes, put on some comfy clothes, step out the door and there you go! Running is something that we are born to do and therefore we are all capable of doing it on the spot. Think again. Our current lifestyle revolves around sitting and inactivity, causing wrong muscle growth or short tendons. Most of the runners out there have horrible running technique and this is at the core of basically all injuries.
The solution is simple; work on your technique! Inform yourself online, watch excellent running videos and film yourself running. See where you are lacking and work on those weak spots. Then find yourself a physiotherapist or a running specialist and invest the 50 pounds or euros into a session with them. Running is a cheap sport so you can miss that 50 pounds easily and it saves you a lot of rehabilitation later! Oh and of course, stick to the exercises they give you…
Our Western version of yoga is barely similar to the authentic spiritual yoga. Nevertheless spending a couple days a week working on different postures and exercises, is a great way to get to know your body. My injuries for example were mostly causes by weak groins and short tendons between my leg and abdomen. Thanks to an almost daily yoga practice, I am working on those weak spots and strengthening them.
Find a local yoga club to join and spend some time with the teachers afterward, discussing your weak points and ask for specific stretches or poses to help these spots. If you want to do it the cheap way, check free yoga courses online specific for running or for your weak spots.
Take it easy
Just like many of us, my social media feeds are filled with extraordinary adventures, people pushing the limits of human capability and incredible sportsmanship. I got inspired to push myself over my limits every time I went for a run. Last spring, when the sun started to shine, I ran half marathon trail runs without training. It was nice weather and I was reading a lot about crazy trail runs. The result was a cool afternoon, muddy feet and a pressing knee injury for a couple months…
The lesson I learned is to take it easy, especially after being injured. It’s better to take it 3 times to 80% a week than 1 time 100% a week. It’s okay to not break your personal record every time or run incredible distances. Work on strength and focus on your training schedule.
If you do a dedicated warming up or not before running, make sure that you take it easy the first 15 minutes of your run. It’s important for your body to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles. I made the mistake by smashing myself directly on a hill the first 3 minutes of my run, causing excessive strain on the joints because the muscles were not working on their capacity yet.
Stopped running for a while and found a pair of old shoes in the closet and picked running up again? Check if the shoes are still okay! My foot injury was caused by worn shoes, no cushioning, no stability whatsoever. Even the most expensive running shoes won’t last longer than 600 kilometers, be on time with buying new shoes and don’t do it online unless you know what you want.
Go to a local running store and see if they do gait analysis. Ask them for running technique advise and don’t go for the brand or color or name. Good shoes are the only investment you have to make for this sport, make it a good one.
You can check if your running shoes are worn by looking at the sole, if it’s worn it’s probably a good idea to replace them. put them on a table or cupboard and see if the vertical axis is askew. If they stand wobbly or the vertical axis looks like a “\” or “/”, it’s time to replace them as well.
Running is addictive, I am sure that I’m not the only one that wants to run every day or plans my next run while running. But every run is a strain on the body, especially coming back from an injury or a rest. Take in the beginning at least 48 hours of rest. Listen to your body carefully and take it easy. Only after a couple weeks of running you can try to take only 1 day of rest. But again, it differs per person and listen close to your body. And if you start running without proper rest, you only increase the chances to overload your joints which undoubted result in another injury.
I hope that when you pay attention to your schedule and shoes, work on your technique and weak spots while incorporating enough rest you will be able to enjoy running 2017 injury free!