The weather is warmer, the evenings are lighter and the smell of spring is in the air. In a bid to make up for lost time after winter hibernation, many people go too hard too soon. This ambitious spirit can lead to soft tissue and/or bone stress injury.
Strategies To Prevent Running Injuries
Getting Back On Track
For those considering on getting back into running, I suggest an interval training approach which includes a combination of a run and walk. Using Caulfield Park as an example, you may like to try jogging along Balaclava and Inkerman roads and briskly walk along Hawthorn and Park Crescent ends, for active recovery. This is a nice way of easing back into running, during the first month or so.
Build your fitness by gradually increasing components of your training program, either via your run-walk ratio, distance or frequency. Once your stamina improves, you may wish to increase your pace and set time goals. Remember these components should not be increased all at once. Your training load should be increased over a few months. Achilles tendinitis injuries are common when people try to rush this process!
I’d expect many of our local amateurs would be busting to blow away the cobwebs and have a massive pre-season. The above training load increases still apply. To properly prepare for the rigors of competitive sport, begin with longer distance aerobic running to build a good base and strength workout sessions. Most athletes will dedicate time each week to improve strength within their core and leg muscles, to optimise performance and minimise injury. Ultimately, you should progress to sprint work, including agility and plyometric training exercises. You must strive to create variety in your pre-season program.
Good Quality Footwear
A pair of sturdy running shoes is preferable. A supportive runner can help to reduce forces that can increase stress and strain to the tendons which arise from your lower leg and insert into your foot. If your feet moderately pronate (roll-in) you may like to consider a runner with medial posting. Furthermore, if your runners are more than 12 months old, it’s time for a new pair! On the contrary, lightweight flexible shoes are better suited to athletes who have spent months-years training to condition themselves for barefoot running. If you’re looking to get back into running on a casual basis, in a bid to shed a few unwanted kilos, it would be best to stick to a more traditional running shoe for now.
Listen To Your Body
If you are experiencing pain or inflammation, you may have to adjust your program until things settle. Taper back on some of the components previously discussed. Please don’t ignore your symptoms as small niggles can become chronic! Tendon pain normally manifests with stiffness at the beginning of exercise, which can warm up during your walk or run. Alternatively, bone injury can cause aching/throbbing pain symptoms during exercise and at rest, which might raise clinical suspicion of a stress fracture pathology.