Injury prevention for runners is very important, and there are key aspects that will give you the most bang for your buck. All the runners I know love to run and want to continue to do it for as long as they can imagine. There is no time to be injured, and there is always another race to sign up for or goal to achieve. That is why I enjoy working with runners, they are very motivated and determined individuals. The information below will keep you injury-free and at the top of your running game.
A proper warm-up prior to your run is part of preventing injuries. A great way to warm-up is by performing a “dynamic warm-up.” This is a series of movements that incorporate stretching the muscles as you are moving, thus dynamic rather than static. The focus is on the lower body, but also uses the trunk and helps to improve blood-flow to the muscles as they are being engaged. Static stretching, where you hold the stretches for 30-60 seconds, is actually not beneficial to perform prior to a run because it can actually shut down the muscles. This can lead to injuries and stiffness or pain. A proper dynamic warm-up prior to running is the way to go.
Strength training is a great way to prevent injury as well. The stronger we are, the less likely we will experience musculoskeletal issues and wear and tear. Specifically, the gluteal muscles are very important to be strong for runners as this is your powerhouse muscle that helps us to propel forward. The calf muscles are also great muscles to strengthen, as these help with shock absorption as we run. Also, strong core muscles support the trunk during running and keep our body stable. The most common running injuries that I treat are related to knee pain, foot pain or low back pain and these can all be prevented. “Pre-hab” rather than “rehab” is well worth the investment in time and energy.
Cross-training is a key part of a well-balanced workout routine for runners. Although we love to run, it’s great to mix it up and cross-train in other ways such as biking, elliptical, swimming and rowing. This allows the body to heal from the pounding that running potential does to our joints while continuing to work out our cardiovascular system. One can still attain the same weekly mileage that they would like to but by different means with different types of cardio training.
Running is an awesome sport and hobby, and many people love to run. To stay injury-free and feeling great, remember these tips listed above. A dynamic warm-up prior to your run, strengthening and cross-training will make all the difference for you. If you need specifics on what the perfect program is for you, seek guidance from a physical therapist who can evaluate you and give you a proper plan to begin today. If you are already experiencing pain or an injury then a physical therapist can prescribe a rehabilitation program to get you back on track and running again.