Running is a fantastic way to stay healthy, active, or create a performance goal. Whether you are training for a 5k, half-marathon, full-marathon, or just enjoying a casual jog with friends in a run club, running can be a life changing activity. However, it is not without risks, and runners should be aware of developing injuries that can interrupt their training and lead to chronic pain. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common running-related injuries and how to prevent and treat them.
One of the most common causes of running injuries is overuse. Simple concept, but sometimes difficult to put the breaks on when the intensity is high! Training too hard, too often, or too fast can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and tendonitis. It is important to follow a well-designed training plan that gradually increases mileage and intensity. A coach can help you design a training plan that meets your goals while minimizing your risk of injury. Don't forget that an "easy" run means low intensity. Too often, runners have a difficult time enjoying the leisurely pace when the lower intensity level is required.
Another common cause of running injuries is poor running form. Improper running form can put extra stress on your joints and muscles, leading to injuries such as plantar fasciitis and runner's knee. Runners should focus on good posture and a slight forward lean to contribute to the forward momentum. We also enjoy a midfoot strike when running. Landing the foot underneath the body mass can be quite important to ensure that there is no opposing momentum traveling up the leg.
Wearing the right running shoes is also an important factor in the journey. Running shoes should be appropriate for your foot type and running style. This can seem like a tricky choice at first, but with time, the information can begin to make real world sense once the marketing overload has dissipated. What is most important, is finding a shoe that can feel natural and comfortable while incorporating some enhancements for the task at hand. It is important to replace your running shoes when there are abnormal surfaces for the foot to perform on. In addition, there is no "right" or "wrong" pair of shoes per-say, but there can be an optimized solution for the certain types of running activities. Typically, the variety or intensity of the running would dictate the appropriate features included in various types of footwear.
Rest and recovery are essential components of any training plan. Giving your body time to recover after hard workouts and long runs is important for preventing injuries and allowing your body to adapt to the stresses of running. Cross-training with low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling (spinning) can also help reduce the risk of injuries. Running at low intensity can be a great way to actively recover from a previous day session. Don't forget to give your body some "me time" and take the shoes off to reset and ground your feet with the natural surface. The most important aspect of recovery is to be able to identify when the body is in need of rest. Sometimes, when our goals, are so big, it can become mentally challenging to reconcile with the amount of rest needed to achieve those goals. When in doubt, don't hesitate to take a day or two off to reset, recover, and recenter.
If you do experience a running-related injury, it is important to seek prompt treatment. Ignoring an injury and continuing to run through the pain can lead to chronic pain and longer recovery times.
In conclusion, running is a fantastic way to stay healthy and active, but it is not without consideration of the accountability associated with recovery practices to minimize risk. To minimize your risk of injury, follow a well-designed training plan, focus on good running form, wear the right shoes, and prioritize rest and recovery. And if you do experience an injury, seek prompt treatment to get back on track with your training as soon as possible.