Studies show that the number of runners that get hurt every year is higher than that of professional football players, at 74 percent. So, why do people run so badly?
There are two key reasons: first is the poor design of running shoes with an elevated heel that causes the unconscious first contact with the heel instead of the forefoot, and second is bad human lifestyle that promotes inactivity, resulting in poor running habits.
That said, no one wants their training plans to be derailed by an injury that could have been prevented by making just a few changes. Whether you are a professional athlete or just running for your physical and mental health, the following tips can help you avoid running-related injuries:
- Warm-upIf you simply start running without a workout, you can easily injure yourself. While pre-run stretches are not recommended, you can opt for Neuromuscular Activation (NMA) and Dynamic exercises, both of which are stretches or strengthening activities that mimic the movement patterns of the workout you’re about to do. NMA exercises work on the muscle fibres to increase force and power, which is a great way to boost the efficiency of your workout. Dynamic exercises, on the other hand, are stretches that help to improve range of motion without diminishing power force.
- Work on distance before increasing your speedAn estimated 80 percent of running injuries result from increasing the mileage excessively. What runners/joggers don’t realize is that the cardiovascular system adjusts to stress quicker than the joints. So, be gentle on the joints by increasing the running distance by no more than 10 percent per week.After establishing a solid base mileage of at least 15 miles a week, you can begin working on the quality of your running using techniques like hill repeats to develop functional strength in your legs, and then move on to speed work or cadence.
- Practical mileage increasesAs discussed in the previous point, you should not increase your mileage by more than 10 percent a week. Rising too fast can lead to injury. Also, plan some recovery time after around 3 weeks of increasing the mileage.
- Strength trainingStronger muscles are an important part of running as they provide more power for uphill running, better soft tissue and connective tissue integrity, better muscle balancing, and superior shock absorption that helps in injury prevention.
- Consistent runningIt is important that you stick to your weekly mileage, irrespective of how busy you get, to avoid very large inconsistencies. One week of reduced mileage is ok, but large fluctuations in weekly mileage can hinder your progress.
Lastly, make sure that you get proper nutrition to build your body’s ability to withstand the training effort. Proper nutrition will fuel your workouts, allowing your performance to continue to increase. Include calcium, carbs, proteins, vegetables, and water in your diet, in the appropriate portions.