Running can be quite a pleasant recreational activity, as well as strict healthcare and athletic routine. But it’s highly unlikely that you would consider it dangerous – it’s aimed at improving people’s health. However, research shows some surprising results. Almost 80% of runners are injured at least once a year. As it turns out, running injuries are not uncommon and we must learn how to prevent them.
Why Do Runners Get Hurt?
Runners get hurt because of two major reasons. They either overtrain or neglect certain bodily imbalances that may produce an unequal effect on their performance on parts of the body across both sides.
For instance, you may have a slightly shorter leg or a weaker left hip. If you run continuously and overburden your “lesser” side, you can get injured.
Alternatively, as you run, your aerobic capacity increases disproportionately to your muscles, tendons, and joint strength. While you think you can handle a higher pace and an increased heart rate, your body doesn’t agree in full, causing an injury to those underdeveloped elements. Therefore, injury prevention while running should be a must for all runners who want to enjoy their favourite sport for years to come.
How to Prevent Running Injuries
Among the most common injury prevention tips for runners, a gradual increase of the pace, velocity, and length should be a prerogative. But if you are really into running, which means you train regularly for at least 3-4 times per week, you need to be talking into account the following injury prevention tips for runners.
Warm up and cool down
Running early in the morning, when the muscles are stiff from the overnight slumber or late in the evenings when you are tired and have less sense of your capabilities can hurt you if you jump straight into training.
Always start your running session with warm-up exercises such as a simple gymnastics routine or a mild run/faster walk workout to release the lactic acid residue from your muscles and prepare them for greater speeds and lengths.
Arm circles, skipping, bounding, and gentle high-knee drills are some good examples for warming up before running. Cool down by properly stretching post-workout and hydrating.
Many runners get into the runner’s high, forgetting that enthusiasm can be harmful when running is done forcefully on an inflexible body.
Long mileage runs require a flexible body and a flexible body cannot be achieved without a daily stretching program.
Important stretching exercises for runners include the lower body area, hips, legs, and especially calves.
Don’t forget to stretch the hamstrings by lying on the ground or leaning against the wall to prevent running injuries. Hip flexors are among the most underused muscles due to long hours of sitting and must be opened before and post run. Always loosen the lower and upper calves to prevent foot injuries. In the end, quads and glutes carry the heaviest load during running and should be regularly stretched but never when they’re cold, the same ad with other muscle groups.
Build core strength
You can hear successful and experienced runners swear on their abs. A strong core is a key factor to preparing your spine to handle the constant bouncing off the ground, as well as to give you a proper posture, which is even more important if you do long-distance running such as marathons and half-marathons.
Eat a wholesome diet
Like it or not, what you put into your body is equally, if not more important than exercise. You can select a group of foods and make them regular staples in your eating plan. Or, choose your own variety, but take care to fill up your potassium and magnesium reserves that get depleted from strenuous physical activity. Pick up healthy carbs such as oats – a good pre-run energy booster. Don’t miss out on greens and veggies, and get enough good fats, for example, from peanut butter. Dark chocolate is tasty and a good magnesium source.
Create a training schedule with rest days
Beginner runners often struggle with maintaining a healthy schedule. Not everyone has the means to train with a running professional. If you’re left to your own devices, ensure a balanced approach to building a running schedule.
Quick results are tempting. However, they’re also the quick route to injuries. Typically, running programs start with longer rest times and shorter training times, and move in the opposite direction once you build endurance and strength. Include rest days in your schedule.
Here is a good example of an eight-week plan. As you can see, it takes around two months to set into a routine and prevent running injuries.
All five of these tips start with a basic awareness of your body and its capacity. Steady gradual progress with running is the common sense of injury prevention, one that will make you a healthy, happy runner that pays the least visits to their GP or orthopaedic specialist.