Even though running is an excellent exercise to improve your fitness level, reduce your weight and strengthen your body to reduce the risks of various health problems, it is also a sport which is closely linked with certain types of injuries. Both newbies and pro runners are susceptible to running related injuries due to various different causes. The good news is that you can take the necessary precautions and preventive measures to decrease the risk of getting injured while running by following several simple rules. It is very important that runners take the proper steps to avoid these injuries, and that they know how to handle the recovery process properly in case the injury has already occurred.
Most common injuries which runners are prone to:
- Runner’s knee
Usually due to an improper running technique, wearing unsuitable running shoes, weak jip muscles or running on uneven terrains, runner’s knee is a painful condition which causes a constant aching underneath the knee. If runners continue to run even when experiencing runner’s knee this can make the condition even worse.
- Achilles Tendinitis
This condition presents itself with a constant and in many cases sharp pain right above the Achilles tendon. Some symptoms include: tightened muscles, swelling heels or a crunching sound while running. This injury can be due to wearing unsupportive running shoes, overtraining and others.
- Plantar Fasciitis
This is a very common running related health problem which can cause mild to excruciating pain in the heel. Caused by inappropriate or worn-out running shoes, overuse or overtraining, as well as due to weak hip and leg muscles, it can take quite a bit of time to resolve this painful issue.
- Shin splints
This name stands for a number of conditions which cause pain in the shin. Often, the pain is caused by a number of reasons, such as overtraining and overuse, and if left untreated can lead to stress fractures, inflammation, swelling and a lot of pain.
All of these conditions can cause quite a bit of discomfort and a lot of pain, and can hinder the performance of a runner seriously. Also, they can lead to frustration of the need to rest and miss out on the daily runs for a number of runners. Getting these health issues can be time consuming and may require medical treatment and physiotherapy.
Fortunately, there are ways to take preventive measures in order to decrease the likelihood of developing one or more of these running related health conditions.
Here is how to stay away from running related injuries
There have been vast studies done in order to determine the causes for sport-related injuries and then finding ways to prevent them. These studies have found that the main reasons for such injuries occurring are due to: weak muscles, improper running shoes and a poor running technique. Here is how to improve each one of these:
- Muscle strength training
Training your body to be strong is one of the best ways to prevent running related and other sports related injuries. By ensuring that your muscles are strong, as well as your tendons, ligaments and bones, you will make sure that your body can withstand the stress and impact damage done by long runs. Imbalance in the muscles can cause serious injuries, so a good strength training program is a must for every runner. This means exercising the strength of the core, hips and hamstrings. For runners who are switching their running techniques and shoes, training of the feet in order to strengthen them is crucial as well.
- Improving your running technique
Not only will fixing problems with your running technique reduce the risk of suffering from running related injuries, but it will help improve your running performance as well. Asking a couch or running expert to analyze your running technique and find any faults in it will be a huge help. Changing running techniques can include switching to another type of running such as: pose, chi or evolution running for example. These techniques all focus on the proper foot strike and body movement of the runner. This will help runners move away from heel striking or arm flailing which are inappropriate techniques which can lead to injuries. By switching to a running technique focusing on the ball or to a mid-strike will help better align the body during running. This will help keep you safe from injuries, and will also boost your running performance to a more natural and efficient one immensely.
Further reading: Evaluation of Basic Running Techniques, by Austin Peters, MD
- Wearing the proper running shoes
Running footwear is the most important piece of gear for every runner. It not only needs to provide the comfort necessary for a good run, but it needs to offer proper support to the feet and arches, cushioning, shock absorption and overall stability to enhance the performance and keep your feet and you yourself safe while running.
Some runners may find that switching to barefoot running shoes will resolve the issues with running related injuries. Others may need to wear more cushioned and stable shoes.
The question about finding the best running shoes for you depends on your specific foot and arch shape, your gait type, as well as on the terrain you run on.
Some simple switches in your running technique, adding strength training to your exercise schedule and finding the best running footwear for yourself are the three steps you need to take in order to reduce the risk of getting a painful and frustrating running related injury to minimum!