Our physio, Abi, recently attend the ‘Running Repairs’ course with Tom Goom. Here are her key messages:
Starting with the good news!
- Runners have been found to be less likely to suffer with osteoarthritis than non-runners.
- Studies by Horga et al. found that runners that were pain free but had abnormalities on MRI, including cartilage tears of the knee and disc degeneration in the spine, did not have worsening of these issues following training for and completing a marathon.
However, overuse injuries are extremely common in runners and can have a big impact on training schedules. Often, these injuries are related to training error and are likely to occur in the first 6 months of running, upon return to running after injury or following an increase in distance or speed of running.
Tips to prevent overuse injury
- Gradual changes in training are essential to try and avoid overuse injuries. This doesn’t just include mileage, but also pace, hill running and frequency of runs.
Suddenly increasing mileage or adding in lots of hill running puts great stress on the muscles and joints in the legs. We need to remember that adaptations take time. Some experts suggest sticking to a 10% increase in pace or mileage when increasing training schedules. For example, if you run a total of 10 miles one week, aim to run a total of 11 miles the following week. However, if this is too much for you, try increasing weekly mileage by just 5%.
Using a training diary can help record and monitor the overall load/running volume each week, and highlight any significant increases that may heighten the risk of injury. You should record the length/time of the run, the intensity of the session, and any other training – such as strength training or swimming.
- What is your goal? Having just one goal to focus on during each run allows you to focus your training. Are you aiming to increase pace, or are you aiming to reach a certain distance? Don’t try and increase both at the same time. Trying to achieve too much at the same time, or too much too soon, can often lead to injury.
- Plan your training schedule on a weekly basis and make sure you include rest. Do not be a weekend warrior! Muscles and joints need time to recover, to allow them to handle the training demands placed upon them. Therefore, you should schedule rest days between runs, and do strength training on days when you are not running.
It is also a good idea to record how you feel after your runs to help you gauge your running threshold and allow you to spot patterns if you do suffer an injury. Allowing yourself to be flexible is also important. Don’t feel you have to stick to a set mileage, just because it is written in your schedule. If something doesn’t feel right or you are noticing pain during a run, do not push through it. Learn to recognise when you need to stop and adjust your plan.
- Sshhh… Running with a quiet foot strike has been shown to increase running efficiency. Often this is due to a shortening of the stride length, which reduces impact forces, leading to a reduction in risk of injury.
- Strength training has been proven to reduce injury risk and improve running economy. You should aim to include 2 sessions a week that focus on hip, knee and ankle strength. Each exercise should be fatiguing by the 10th repetition, and you should aim to complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. This can reduce the risk of over-use injuries by 50%!
If you are struggling with a running injury, or would like guidance with your training or running gait, then get in touch to arrange an appointment.