Decreasing the chances of "Ouch!"
- Be honest with yourself. If you wake up feeling like you just got hit by a truck, take the day off. If you have pain that gets worse with running, stop! You should never “train through pain.” Substitute light walking, water training, or bicycling if you want. Just be honest with yourself, be kind to your body.
- Learn your limits. We see a lot of runners with stress fractures and other overuse injuries. The body is put under a lot of stress when you start ramping up your mileage. You can’t hurry - Love or your body! Muscles and joints need time to adapt to intensity and mileage increases, if you rush things it’s an overload of strain on the body—and you’ll end up in the office with an injury. Slow down and follow the 10% rule: build your weekly training by no more than 10% per week. If you recently got injured don’t try to get back into your routine as soon as possible, adjust your goals to your current state and move forward from there.
- Balance your Muscles. Strength training helps balance the body. The hips and core are the two biggest strength training areas. The hips are especially important because that’s what gives you overall leg stability. Try to keep your body symmetric and fluid when you run.
- PRICE. (Protect.Rest.Ice.Compression.Elevate ) is your go to pain reliever, whether a fancy ice pack, a baggie filled with ice cubes, or a frozen bag of peas—ice is your best friend when something hurts! COMPRESS with an ACE wrap, ankle brace, knee brace as needed.
- Change up the surface. Vary your surfaces, one day on the road, next on the track, then the treadmill day, and definitely try to hit up a trail. Try to mix up what you're pounding on, it will help decrease chances of an injury.
- Check your stride. Over-striding increases stress, if you can shorten your strides you will soften the landing when you run. You’ll have to play with this, try to run at your current stride and make it shorter by 10%. This will decrease your impact load.
- Stretch it out. I taught a Yoga for Athletes class and runners generally get hurt in the areas that are tight; namely the hip flexors, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Hamstring and hip flexor flexibility is proven to aide in knee function and calf flexibility keeps the Achilles and plantar fascia from getting micro-tears. Dynamic stretching can be done as a safe effective pre-run warm-up.
- Cross train. Cross training improves muscle balance which will keep you injury free. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and improve your aerobic fitness.
- If the shoe fits. Don’t just buy it if you can squeeze your foot in it! Make sure it’s the right one for your foot type. Think about replacing your shoes every 6 months, or 400-500 miles. Heavier runners should replace their running shoes every 350 miles. Consider custom inserts to help the form and function of your foot, the right pair can improve your stride just like a pair of eye glasses improve your visual acuity.
Most of us will get hurt during our running career, these tips can minimize the chances of a major injury.