23 April 2019

How to stay injury free

September 14, 2012
How to stay injury free

Injury does not need to be part and parcel of being a runner. Here running coach Nina Anderson answers the questions we get asked the most about how to stay fit and healthy and injury free.

Stay injury FREE











They say prevention is better than cure – how does that apply to runners?

It can be said that a runner is only as strong as their weakest link and as running exerts a variety of stresses on the body it will also expose any underlying weakness.

It therefore makes sense to improve strength and stability in order to be better equipped to cope with these stresses.

Strength and conditioning work is vital and forms the foundation upon which to progress training.

This alone can help prevent injury. Running specific exercises to improve proprioception and strengthening of the calf, hamstring and gluteus medius should also be included in a training schedule as a preventative measure.

Can too much exercise be as unhealthy as too little?

It’s not that too much exercise can be unhealthy but doing too much too soon (or overtraining) can lead to injury.

Training at higher intensity (e.g. intervals) stresses the body and forces the physiological adaptations needed to improve performance i.e. you break the body down in order to build it up.

These changes occur in the rest period after the session, so if another intensive session is done before an  adequate recovery then the risk of injury will be high.

It’s therefore vital not to do hard sessions on consecutive days and find a balance between intensity of session and recovery.

I keep getting recurring shin splints – how can I avoid this?

This is a loose term for pain at the front part of the lower leg. As with any injury it’s important not only to treat the symptom but also address the cause in order to help prevent it re-occurring.

Causes can include incorrect footwear and/or foot strike, too much running on hard surfaces, ankle instability and doing too much too soon in training.

Often modifying training is enough to help alleviate symptoms but if there is no improvement then the best action would be to get advice from a sports physio for treatment, cause and specific strengthening work. Running should not be continued with shin pain but replaced with cross training until pain free.

How do I know if it’s just a niggle or something more serious?

Sometimes it can be difficult to establish what is a ‘normal’ discomfort and what needs attention.

Ask yourself questions such as does the niggle disappear after a warm up or get worse? Am I running differently because of it? If I take a day off will this ease the symptoms on my next run?

Learning to understand what is a discomfort that needs treatment, muscular fatigue or a niggle that massage and some TLC can alleviate takes experience and a good understanding of your own body to recognise.

In essence, if running exacerbates the problem then stop immediately and seek advice from a sports physio.

I’m keen to increase my speed, what’s the best way to do this without getting injured?

Training at quicker speeds puts greater stress on the body and so increases the risk of injury. To help reduce this:

– Prior to beginning speed training establish a solid aerobic base and background in strength and conditioning (with particular focus on the hamstring).

– Ensure a gradual training progression

– Complete a thorough warm up through the full range of movement at or above running speed and a long enough cool down to help flush out lactate and toxins which accumulate during the session and return the body to its ‘normal’ state.

– Do not do speed sessions on consecutive days.

Is stretching crucial for all runners to keep fit and healthy?

I would always recommend static stretching after every run to help reduce the chance of injury and also promote speedier recovery.

This post run stretch should focus on calf, quadriceps and hamstring. In addition, prior to running anything of intensity e.g. intervals, I would also recommend stretching (after an easy warm up).

Whilst many people now opt for dynamic stretching here e.g. leg swings and walking lunges as studies say that this is more beneficial that static stretching, personally I do not know any athlete who will not do static stretching too at this point.

I’ve heard runners should cross train with other lower impact sports, is this recommended?

Cross training is great and can be added into a schedule to compliment a runner’s workout whilst not fatiguing the legs in the same way as running.

It is also vital to cross train (e.g. aqua jogging, rowing, bike) when injured or rehabbing to maintain fitness so that when running recommences you have given yourself the best chance to continue from as close a point as possible to where you left off.

If in doubt as to what form of training can be undertaken whilst you are unable to run then seek advice from a sports physio.

Head online to visit  www.ninaanderson.com. Nina is also happy to answer running related queries just email her at mailto:nina@ninaanderson.com.

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