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How To Avoid Running Injuries

Almost twice as many people run for exercise today compared with six years ago, according to ABS figures. It’s easy to see why almost 8 percent of Australians love a good jog. It can be done practically anywhere, little equipment is required and it provides whole body cardio workout – not to mention those wonderful endorphins and some really great views around Sydney.

Push yourself too hard and your runner’s high could end in a painful low. It’s estimated that 80 percent of runners get some form of injury each year. You’re better off running than not running, our body is made to run but you need to be aware of the risk of injury. The most common injuries occur in the tendons, particularly the Achilles, where a strain can cause small tears, resulting in heel pain and swelling, runner’s knee or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

The most common cause of these injuries are the foot rolling in too much, weak gluteal muscles, prompting the knee to roll inwards. In a previous newsletter we have outlined this condition in detail which is called Pronation Distortion Syndrome. See the image at top left.

The number one remedy for reducing injuries for runners is to correct postural imbalances. Undergoing a postural correction program, where you are bringing the body back into correct biomechanical alignment, enables you to put less stress on the body through the act of running.

Here are three simple tips to help you get started:

  1. Be sensible with increasing load: Don’t get carried away by your training goals, building up sensibly is the best way to avoid running injuries. The biggest problem coming into running season is people trying to do too much too quickly. Regardless of whether you are training for a marathon, or just want to be able to make it around the block, don’t increase your training volume by more then 10 percent per week. When you train, you’re stressing your body. You break your muscles down a bit, which causes a degree of damage, and your body thinks ‘you’re hurting me here, I need to grow stronger.’ If you don’t allow for rest and recovery, you will get breakdowns without the adaptation and improvement.
  2. Close the gait: Leaping forward like a gazelle won’t do your body any favors. People tend to over stride, but this causes the jarring and breaking forces. It is better to shorten your stride even if it means you are now taking more steps. This will help you to have lighter contact with the ground. The recommendation is 180-190 steps per minute – try listening to music with a similar beat!!
  3. Restful remedy: Don’t fall into the trap of pushing yourself during training but only getting 5hrs sleep. If your body is already tired, its going to allocate resources to other things rather than recovering after your run. There are many types of recovery techniques we recommend including eat certain proteins, wear compression garments, have ice baths and swim, drink plenty of water, stretch and foam roll your muscles… but a good night sleep is always just as effective.

Our Exercise Physiologists at Optimum can help with just this. We will address all postural imbalances in your body and show you how you correct posture through a gym or home based series of exercises. Our aim is to educate you on the process so you can manage your training load and reduce the risk of injury. Book in for your initial assessment and see how we can help reduce those niggling running injuries.

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