There are general rules for injury prevention that must be followed to avoid loss of training due to injury. Consistency and gradual incremental increases in overall athletic stressors are the key to any successful training program.

Causes of injury

Probably the main cause in distance running is the volume of training, especially if there is insufficient rest between sessions. This is the classic "too much, too soon, too fast" syndrome. Research has indicated that there is no link between speed and injury in distance runners, unless of course an appropriate warm-up routine has not been followed. Don't overdo it! The amount of training you actually carry out plays a key role in determining your real injury risk. Studies have shown, for example, that your best direct injury predictor may be the amount of training you completed last month. For example if May is a heavy training period, watch out in June! This relationship may seem strange at first, but it simply reflects the fact that vigorous training produces tired muscles which may not be able to stand up to further training stresses. Fatigued muscles also do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.

Many injuries occur due to weak muscles or muscle imbalance. Assessment of muscle strength and balance and regular sports massage can be an integral part of a sports injury preventative strategy.

Resistance strength training can make muscles less susceptible to damage. This can be achieved in the gym or at home in your living room with a few dumbbells and a core ball. It is important that any exercises are specific to your sport. In distance runners, adding hill training to your strength program can be a valuable tool for injury avoidance if carried out properly. Core stability exercises are an extremely useful tool in preventing muscle imbalance, especially in woman.

Top Tips For Injury Prevention

  1. Avoid training when very tired.
  2. Do not run if you are still stiff or fatigued from your previous run. Get out your bike or swim instead.
  3. Avoid peer pressure into running too fast or too long when you are due for an easy day.
  4. Pay attention to nutrition and hydration; increase carbohydrate consumption during periods of heavy training.
  5. Increase in training should be matched by an increase in resting. Don't increase yours by more than 10% per week.
  6. Treat minor injuries immediately to prevent them becoming serious.
  7. If you are in pain when training, STOP.
  8. Keep to soft surfaces wherever possible. If you must run on the pavement, keep switching sides of the road especially if there is an appreciable curve to the asphalt.
  9. Introduce new training techniques and activities very slowly and carefully.
  10. Be religious about warming up and cooling down. Adopt a dynamic warm-up and stretch after a session.
  11. Wear appropriate running shoes that are not excessively worn. Have two pairs that you rotate.
  12. Listen to your body! Monitor daily for signs of fatigue.
  13. Have a sports massage on a regular basis.
  14. Incorporate core stability exercises into your daily routine.
  15. Remember that strength training is great cross training for runners, especially woman.

Remember that to achieve your running goals, you need months and years of successful running free of injury and illness. Pay attention to your body and all of these tips to ensure that you'll continue to pound the pavement injury free for years to come!