How to avoid injury as a runner

Posted on: 26/08/2018

It is extremely common within a training programme which is supporting you towards an event such as a half marathon to experience an injury of some kind, particularly if you are new to running. It is often the case that a month or so into the training and a twinge can settle on a crucial  part of the body i.e. the knee or hips. The runner then stretches the area, pops some ibuprofen and keeps running. A few training sessions of pounding the pavement later and as the distance increases, the runner is on the couch with an ice pack on the affected area.

I have experienced many people who have come to me for advice on injury solutions, who are in that bracket of reoccurring injuries as a direct result of bad trend.

Prevention is always better then cure. The issues being experienced maybe as a result of the way we run, the shoes we wear, because we sit all day, or maybe we just keep repeating the training mistakes i.e. big jumps in mileage and poor attention to mobilising the body.

During my time in health and fitness, the running science has shifted its focus from treatment to the prevention of injury.

Most fitness experts will agree that to lower injury risk, you require a strong body, good form and the right trainers in order to enjoy a long, happy, ice-pack-free running future.

See below my top tips to prevent these common running injuries:

1. Improve and maintain your flexibility – I can never express how important movement efficiency is. If the body moves well, you will execute a discipline such as running much more effectively. The autumn edition of Thrive Magazine will feature my simple approach to ensuring flexibility is maintained and the types of stretches to do frequently.

2. Include strength training in your running programme – Ensure you have a strong foundation and sufficient muscular strength to cope with the demand. Using equipment such as a core ball and Bosu can help build the core strength and stablishing muscles to support you in building the strength required to be a better runner.

3. Stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet – Drinking water is such an important component of living healthy generally but running at a moderate intensity will dramatically deplete the fluid levels so this becomes even more important. The body will also need to be fuelled properly pre and post run. My last blog consisted of fuelling the body properly and the importance of doing so.  See Nutrition advice to support endurance events

4. Warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races – A preparation and post training process is really important to ensure the body is fully ready to perform what is required and reduce the injury risk.

5. Gradually increase your mileage and structure your training schedule accordingly – A process of applying incremental distance increases will help tune your body properly to the end goal. Little progress each week is advisable when building up to a distance such as a half marathon.

6. Cross-train and include rest days in your training schedule –The body will benefit from applying different points of focus into the training to ensure sufficient progress is achieved in the required areas. The body will always need to recover after each run to ensure the body has sufficient time to recruit the muscle fibres and the joints to have the stress moderated to them.

7. Talk with a running expert or coach to analyse your mechanics- If you are concerned that your gait and movement is not efficient, it maybe a worthwhile investment to have your gait analysed. The best in the business from my experience is the guys at Sub 4 If you are a serious runner and want the best advice, I can highly recommend the ex 800 metre runner, Clifton Bradeley

8. Wear the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and running style – The footwear is highly important and should be sufficiently supporting your feet to cope with the impact and protect the joints as much as possible. I would typically explore the ranges which Asics, Brookes and New Balance. The guys at Up and running inCheltenham have a fantastic reputation in ensuring you are equipped with the best footwear for you.