As our spring running season continues on, a number of us may start to feel some tender spots developing from the accumulated miles we have put on while enjoying the warmer weather. There are some things we should be aware of to help prevent injury.
The most obvious one is wearing worn out shoes. They will not give you the proper support and cushioning needed. This goes hand in hand with making sure we are getting the proper shoe for our foot mechanics and running style. If you don’t know the amount of support you need from a shoe see an experienced staff member at a running store.
When increasing your mileage the rule of thumb is increase only by 10% per week and then backing off on the mileage every 3rd or 4th week by at least 20% before increasing again. This is good advice for everyone. An intense speed work out or a hard hill program is best done only once a week especially if you are not preparing for a race in the near future.
Ease in and out of your workout. By this I mean start your run slow and pick up speed until you are at the pace you are going to do your run at. This should take about 5 minutes to allow the muscles to warm-up. Reverse this process at the end of your run. Progressively slow down for the last 5 minutes to the point of walking. End your workout with stretching of the hard working running muscles and tendons. The calf, achilles tendon, quadriceps, hamstrings and IT bands are areas that need to get some attention. Never bounce during a stretch or stretch to the point of pain. Slow, easy stretching should feel good with moderate resistance from the area stretched.
Try to include another sport in with your training as this will add to your endurance and / or speed and help strengthen some of your lesser-used runners’ muscles. The usual sports people choose are cycling and swimming but inline or ice-skating and cross-country skiing (both traditional and skate style) are very good as well.
Rest is as important as the workouts. The body heals and rebuilds the muscles and support structures during the bodies down time. Days off and easy weeks interspersed with hard ones are very important to prevent problems due to over training. Sleep is also a big factor in injury prevention. Lack of sleep results in many negative conditions such as less energy, poorer quality workouts and increased chance of sore and injury prone muscles.
Elevating and icing problem areas can be very helpful if you are experiencing sore muscles especially if there is swelling or bruising. If there is no sign of swelling or bruising then alternating ice with heat 2 to 4 times at 15 minutes each will help the blood circulation for muscle recovery. When icing, wrap the ice in a moist towel so the ice doesn’t directly touch the skin. The heat pad should be warm but not hot to the touch.
When you have a problem that doesn’t resolve itself after a few days rest then you should consider searching out expert advice from a Sports Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, Athletic Therapist or other trained medical professional. An injury problem, like most problems, is always more easily resolved when corrected early and not allowed to worsen from repeating the same actions.
We usually take for granted how good we feel when we are running well but also know how frustrating it is when we are not able to go for our runs. With some proactive measures we can all enjoy our running for a long time to come.