As a general rule, running injuries occur because what you’re demanding of a tissue (muscle, tendon or bone) is more than it has the capacity to give. This can happen for one of two reasons:
1). You’re putting load through the tissue that it is not yet strong enough to handle it – going into training too much, too soon. Remember your ability to do a program is very very different to your running friends. Consider this: How long have you been running compared to them? How many weeks have you left to train for your event? Did you run as a child and teenager? Running load is built over time not in 8 weeks!
2). It’s a Biomechanical issue – the load that you’re putting through the tissue is not normal. Because of some dysfunction in the way you’re moving, some tissues aren’t doing enough work so then something else is having to pick up the slack and it gets injured.
A great analogy for a running injury is “you have a wheel alignment” issue.
The good news! It’s WAY easier to prevent injuries than to fix them particularly if you don’t want to miss too much training. You just need to follow some basic rules and listen to your body. Here we go!
Read my five rules to prevent running injuries HERE
RULE #1 – don’t change anything more than 10% per week
The body is a creature of habit, it can’t handle too much change at once
There is always a lag time for adaptation. Changing too much at once means we don’t recognise how much extra load the body is actually taking, it spreads the resources too thin and we don’t recover well.
Don’t add two tough sessions of more than a 10% increase in the same week e.g. your long run and your speed session
Don’t up the pace on a run the same session you add in hills
Don’t try new shoes on your long run or speed session
RULE #2 – running injuries are not just about running
Running is a high load high impact activity but it is just another activity in your day, like work or sleep. What you do outside of running can and will significantly effect how well your body will work when you do run
Particularly relevant to people who have a consistent work posture or movement pattern e.g. desk workers – that posture makes them tight and that then limits their ability to move when they are running. Want to know how to set your workstation up properly? click here
Combining this with rule number 1, a heavy week of work is the 10% change the system can handle – don’t up your training load at the same time. A classic example of this is someone who sits at work until 9 pm for 3 days in a row, followed by upping their long run from 10km to 15 km on the Saturday. Bad idea!
RULE #3 – running isn’t actually just about your lower body
Our upper body is in fact super important when we run – it needs to be able to rotate, move laterally and make adjustments for anything that happens down below e.g. stepping on uneven ground
We see this in office workers who sit at a desk all day, get stiff and rigid through their ribcage and then end up with some kind of lower limb tendinopathy – because they can’t make small adjustments they end up putting a lot more load through the tissues which ends up exceeding their capacity.
The other important, fairly obvious but commonly overlooked point is that the body is all connected, therefore what happens in one area can significantly effect another.
What connects us all together is fascia – non-contractile sheet-like connective tissue that is tensioned by the muscles around it and transmits forces through the body. This means that tightness in the upper body will actually increase the resting tension n of the muscle in your lower body, which you then go and use to run.
Fascia creates a skin around each muscle and is continuous across bony prominences into the next.
If the upper body is tight, it can’t make these small adjustments and you end up having to expend a lot more energy trying to move this big rigid block.
The implication of everything being connected is that tension in one area can cause pain and dysfunction elsewhere
YOGA – the best way to get tension out of the entire fascial line. Cannot underestimate the importance of regular Yoga training . Look at it like it’s an investment in your training, not something else you have to fit into your training schedule
Another option is using a roller or release ball but you can’t just do your ITB. Everything can and should be rolled and there’s not really a right or wrong way to do it.
RULE #4 – listen to your body
It is normal for our body to fluctuate. Fatigue levels, strength, tightness, motivation, sensitivity to pain, particularly for women to do with their menstrual cycle.
Some days you just don’t feel it and that is okay
All the research is starting to support this idea that there is often a subjective report of fatigue or something not being right prior to injury. Sydney Swans will pull a play from training if they report high levels of fatigue 2 days in a row.
The goal is to make it to the start line, not the finish line.
RULE #5 – get treatment early
There are actually very few injuries that will make me stop someone from running, if it’s dealt with early enough. Injuries come about because something is not going right so they tend not to go away if you just continue on like you always have been.
The longer you run on something that’s sore, the more likely you are to actually cause tissue damage which is what makes you take time off.
The important ones:
Tendinopathies e.g. Achilles, patella, hamstring. If you see a physio the max you will need is 21 days off, a rehabilitation and a graduated return to run program. If you don’t, you can end up with months to years of chronic grumbly pain, both running and just in general life and worst case scenario a tendon tear
Tendinopathies are often caused by track because of the higher power required. Particularly if you’re a middle to long distance runner, 200s and 400s not necessarily the best thing because it’s using muscles in a different way so they won’t be conditioned for it.
If anything stops you from running in a run, or swells post-run. This could indicate tissue damage and needs to be managed appropriately.
Foot or shin pain, worse case scenario is a stress fracture
ITB pain, biomechanical problem that can be created differently in different people – need to have biomechanics assessed and fixed, in the meantime shorten stride length
Our way of thinking about the best kind of running shoes has changed significantly throughout the years.
Heel pitch – the difference between the height at the front and the height at the back. Be careful when changing heel pitch – this can lead to injury.
Traditional running shoes have a higher heel pitch because they tend to have more cushioning under the heel – does lend to more of a heel-striking pattern.
Support – the amount of assistance given by the shoes needs to match the amount of support your foot requires. Just like you can be not supported enough, you can also be over-supported.
Change shoes every 800-1000km or 9-12 months or check the wear patterns.
We highly suggest seeing the professionals and having your running assesed and the appropiate shoes for your foot type prescribed. We recommend The Running Company at Bondi Beach- hyperlink
I hope you have found this helpful. If you are sick of getting pain when you run or want a digital running analysis click here to make an appointment to see me.