It’s time to start thinking about the running season. We thought we’d start you off on the right foot by outlining the very best tips to avoid injury. In fact, if you follow these rules you may never see us for a running injury again.
RULE #1 – Don’t change anything in your program by more than 10% per week
The body is a creature of habit; it likes routine just as much as our minds. It doesn’t do well with sudden unexpected change. Some structures such as tendons are renowned for breaking down if there is a sudden change.
If you are building up for a half marathon and you go from 10 kms to 12kms MOST people should be ok. If you go from 10 to 14kms you increase the risk of injury. Go to 16kms and you are really testing the structures of your body. If you were doing 800m at the track x 5 and you decide to do 10 x 200m at full pace you are running a large risk of tearing a muscle or overloading a tendon.
Don’t worry! We have included a sensible 14 week training program to get you to the start of a half marathon. Click here to download our free PDF running program. Special thanks to running coach Sally Lynch from Let’s run for designing this.
RULE #2 – Be really careful when changing your shoes
Yes we have read the research from Dan Lieberman from Harvard University.
There is evidence for and against this argument of minimalist shoes by the way.
We see injuries all the time from people changing their shoes. Below are some of the most common examples
Transitioning from a super supportive shoe such as an Asics Kyano into a neutral shoe or racing flat. The body has got used to that nice big arch. Take it a way and you run the risk of a calf tear or tendon overload. A better option is to go for a mildly controlled shoe such as an Asics DS trainer or Asics 2000 first then go to a neutral shoe.
Transitioning from a stable neutral shoe such as a Brookes Glycerine to a 0 pitch or low pitch shoe. Your body has got well adjusted to this height from the ground. If you are unflexible or sit at a desk all day you run the risk of tearing your calf or straining your Achilles tendon if you suddenly remove that heel pitch. Consider dropping a few mm before going to zero.
Going from a neutral shoe to a minimalist shoe. As above.
Removing your orthotics and going straight to a neutral or minimalist shoe. Most people have had orthotics for a while. Again the muscles that control the arch of your foot are used to this support. Consider going to a moderately supportive shoe such as an Asics 2000 for a while to let your feet adapt.
Think a 10% change in your shoe and you should be ok. Changing your shoe dramatically will inevitably mean you’re coming in to see us with an injury.
RULE #3- Other things in life can give you running injuries!
Running is a high load high impact activity but it is just another activity in your day. So is the amount you work, how often you go to the gym and how much you sleep. What you do outside of running can and will significantly effect how well your body will work when you do run
This is relevant to people who sit at a desk all day (most of us) or people who work a lot with their hands such as electricians and Physios. If you have been working 8 to 9 hours sitting at your desk and than suddenly do a couple of 12 to 14 hour days in a row this can stiffen you right up. This is a classic time to get injured. 2 x 14 hour days followed by a speed session or long run is a recipe for an injury. Try and fit in a yoga session or massage before your next run if you are getting slammed at work.
RULE #4 – Running isn’t actually just about your lower body
Our upper body is actually super important when we run. Your trunk needs to be able to rotate symmetrically to propel us forward. We see this a lot in office workers who sit at a desk all day, get all stiff and rigid through their ribcage/ neck and then end up with an ankle injury. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? An example that springs to mind is a patient that leans on his right elbow all day at work. When he stands his trunk is flexed to the side he leans on. When he runs his trunk bends towards the side he leans on. His poor old foot and ankle have to roll the exact opposite way so he doesn’t fall over. The trunk is probably going to win this battle, as it is a hell of a lot bigger leading to an overload of the opposing foot structures.
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 (think the white layer around a chicken breast) – non-contractile sheet-like connective tissue that is continuous from one muscle to the next 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 of the muscle in your lower body, which you then go and use to run.
Yes I sit all day at work for 12 hours. What can I do? YOGA – is the best way to get tension out of the entire fascial line. Yoga combines whole body stretching symmetrically. Every runner training for an event (except those with specific injuries) should be doing yoga at least once per week. If training for a marathon consider twice per week. A good Hatha or Yin class would be great. Local options we recommend at Balance In Motion are Body Mind Life, Flow Athletic, Barefoot Yoga or Dharma Shala. If you are time poor download this app. It even has a yoga for runner’s section. You need to look at it as an investment. You are investing in restoring balance to your body so you can train hard again. Sometimes it is that weekly yoga class that gets you to the start line.
Other options are a massage with the grandmaster Coby Du Preez at Balance In Motion, OR using a roller, fascial stick (coming soon to BIM) or release ball. Swing past the clinic to buy your release ball and we will chuck in a free instructional eBook this week only (normally $29.95).
RULE #5 – Listen to your body
RULE #6 – Get treatment early
There are actually very few injuries that will make us stop someone from running if it’s dealt with early enough. But remember 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. Don’t run until you have seen us. We can stop it from becoming chronic if you come in early.
Swelling over tissue such as bone or tendon. Running over swelling is a bad idea. If it is swollen come in ASAP. It could be something temporary that we can manage quickly.
Foot or shin pain that aches at rest. Come in straight away.
Calf/ hamstring strains that keep reoccurring. These seem quite minor but these minor strains repeated can cause a lot of problems. Come in and get a proper rehab program.
BONUS: Thanks to Sally Lynch from Lets Run for providing us with this safe and sensible half marathon program for this years May Half Marathon. Click here to download our 14 Week Half Marathon Training Program.