Welcome to my new monthly blog post for Penkridge Runners covering a range of health and fitness topics specific to runners.  I hope you find the articles useful and if you need further information then please contact me directly

Running is one of the most accessible forms of fitness training to ensure you attain an adequate amount of exercise each week. In fact if you run regularly then research has indicated that your relative risk of death can decrease by up to 63%.

So just goes to prove that exercise really is medicine!

However there is a flip side – not that this should discourage anyone from exercising regularly!  There is also a risk of injury from running and each year between 30-80% of runners suffer injury associated from running (Van Gent et al 2007). This statistic hasn’t significantly reduced in over 30 years!

The biggest risk factor for recurrent injury is previous injury (Saragiotto et al 2014).  The 5 most frequently reported injuries in runners are Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (aka shin splints), Achilles & Patella Tendonopathy, Plantar Heel Pain (aka Plantar Faciitis), Ankle Sprain and ITB Syndrome (Lopes et al 2012). Most of these issues are cumulative onset injuries often associated with training load errors such as excessive increase in training volumes or intensity and failure of the tissues to adapt to this training load.  With the correct advice and management the risk of you experiencing injury form running can be significantly reduced if not avoided.

If we progressively adapt our tissues to the loads encountered when running then we get stronger and faster rather than becoming injured. It’s a question of balancing appropriate training load with adequate recovery!  We can optimise this response to training through being aware of some important information

  1. Warm up – Progressively prepare your body for running with dynamic movement such as light jog, walking lunges, hopping, knee lifts. All current evidence across a number of sports demonstrates that warm up reduces your injury risk and prepares you’re body for exercise.

DON’T statically stretch before running– research suggests you will impair performance and may actually increase your injury risk (Shrier et al 2004).

  1. Take shorter, lighter, quicker steps – Most runners run with reduced cadence (typically around 155-160 foot strikes per minute). Try aiming for 3 foot strikes per second (Schubert et al 2014). Increasing cadence has been shown to reduce peak loading in commonly injured regions such as the knee.
  2. Train often – Running 4-5 times per week across mixed training intensities (long steady, threshold, intervals) achieves a wider variation of tissue adaptation especially for the beginner. Progress training volume by approximately 10-20% per week. We also know that training variation avoids monotony and provides movement variability.
  3. Strength and Conditioning – Runners need to be strong and robust to handle the loading forces encountered when you run which can be approximately 3-4x your bodyweight each footstrike over thousands of cycles. Research also highlights that stronger runners are both faster and have reduced injury risk! Aim for 2 sessions of running specific strength and conditioning per week – more about this next month!
  4. Recover – Sleep, Diet, Hydration are all important aspects of recovery which optimise adaptation to training. These are often neglected factors and so simple to get right with consistent effort. Get these right and you will transform your running and recover from training sessions far quicker with less soreness and feeling fresh. There will be a future article specific to recovery.

Consider following the basic advice outlined above and you will already be well on your way to better running with a reduced injury risk.

My next article will focus on Strength and Conditioning for runners……………………………………………………..

Active Therapy is a specialist running clinic and provides treatment, rehabilitation, gait analysis and shoe selection advice for runners of all standards.

 Please contact us on 07970110526 or admin@active-therapy.com.