These are the important factors to consider in developing an effective injury free running workout

Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. Ignoring this message and pushing on the fastest way to develop a serious or chronic injury. It is easy to ignore the pain in order to accomplish a goal, thinking you can deal with the consequences later. Don’t fall into that trap!

Any exercise training schedule that does not include rest days potentially is liable to cause injury. Sloppy or uncontrolled movements can occur as a result of fatigue, lack of appropriate skill, going out too fast, or lack of attention when you are exercising; any unnatural joint movements can put you at risk for injury.

Doing too much too soon is a common cause of injury. Gradually increasing both the time and intensity of exercise is the ideal way to allow the body to adapt, grow stronger and become fit. It is important to know your limits and work toward progress with them in mind. Pushing your body beyond its ability its ability to adapt will result in illness or injury.

 

Common injuries

Know what the risks of running are before you encounter them

Runner’s Knee: A common overuse injury that has many causes.

It is commonly due to the knee cap being out of alignment. Careful attention is necessary to keep an erect posture with the shoulders back while running. The foot strike should land directly under the hips with a rolling motion to the forefoot. If done improperly, then the cartilage on the kneecap can wear down over time. Vigorous activity leads to pain around the knee cap. Pain is most noticeable when going up and down stairs, squatting or sitting with the knee bent for a long time.

Stress Fracture: This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain.

It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. It is usually due to running too hard or too long when increasing training intensity. Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress in the bone can cause a more serious injury.

Shin Splint: A pain that occurs in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (Tibia).

Shin splints often occur after a change in activity or training, such as running longer distances, increasing the intensity and speed of the running workout, increasing the number of days running per week too quickly, and from continuous running on hard surfaces. People with flat feet are prone to develop shin splints. Specifically fitted orthotics often help. Treatment includes rest, stretching exercises, and a slow return to activity after weeks of healing.

Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon that attaches the calf at the back of the heel.

Achilles Tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon often due to increasing distance runs too quickly, or increasing speed work training too quickly beyond the runner's ability. Tight muscles can also contribute to this injury. Treatment includes: rest, icing of the area and gentle calf stretches before and after training.

Muscle Pull: A small tear in the muscle, also called a muscle strain, often caused by over stretching a muscle.

When a muscle tears, you may feel a popping sensation as it happens. Treatment includes: RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Muscle pulls commonly affect these muscles: hamstrings, quadriceps and groin.

Ankle Sprain: The stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle.

This type of injury often occurs when the foot twists or rolls inwards. Sprains typically become better with rest, ice, compression and elevating the foot.

Plantar Fasciitis: An inflammation of the Plantar Fascia, the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes.

People with tight calf muscles and a high arch are more prone to plantar fasciitis. It may also be due to an increase in activity. Plantar Fasciitis may occur without any identifiable cause. Treatment includes calf stretches, icing the bottom of the foot and rest. The pain is very noticeable when the athlete rises out of bed in the morning and attempts to walk.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): This syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee.

The Iliotibial Band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee. ITBS occurs when the ligament thickens and rubs the knee bone, causing inflammation. Long distance runners are more likely to develop ITBS. Treatment includes: decreasing the amount of exercise or running, heat and stretching prior to exercise and icing the area after activity.

Blisters: These are fluid filled sacks on the surface of the skin caused by friction between your shoe socks and skin.

While these are more annoying than anything else, focusing on the pain of blisters may cause you to compromise form, leading to other types of serious injuries. To prevent blisters, start using new shoes gradually; wear socks with a double layer; apply petroleum jelly on areas prone to blisters.

Temperature Related Injuries: Sunburn, heat exhaustion, frostbite and hypothermia.

These can be prevented by dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, and using sunscreen.

 

Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

Good news: you can prevent these injuries and stay healthy!

1. Listen to your body

Don't ignore pain. A little soreness is okay. If you notice consistent pain in a muscle or joint that does not get better with rest, get medical help.

2. Create a Running Plan

Before beginning a running routine, talk to a trainer, coach or fitness professional to help you with a running plan that is in line with your current fitness abilities and long-term goals.

3. Warm Up and Stretch

Before you begin your running workout you should first do some very slow running to bring blood flow into the muscles to be used in running and stretching. Then begin15-30 minutes of warm up running which includes easy pick up short runs to gradually faster runs until you feel loose. Easy running jogging in between the pickup runs. Once you feel loose and ready to run, begin the workout.

4. Warm Down

After the running workout is completed, easy running, jogging and walking for 20 -30 minutes or more is important depending upon the intensity of the completed workout. Include light stretching within the warm down.

 

 

- Blog by John Pistone