Being a runner you know injuries are usually part of the process. As the owner of a running store I see running injuries on a daily basis, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I have helped many runners who thought they were “just injury prone” stay healthy. I was one of those runners for years until I learned how to be preventive and have been running injury free since. There are three simple steps you can follow to help prevent injuries.
1). Make sure you go to your local running specialty store and get a proper pair of shoes. This isn’t shameless self-promotion, shoes are your most important piece of equipment and can be the difference between an injury or staying healthy. While you’re there ask the staff about proper running form so they can help make corrections. Small adjustments in form can make a world of difference in efficiency.
2). Reevaluate your training plan. Many injuries are caused by training errors. The most common mistakes are increasing mileage too quickly and doing too much anaerobic training without proper recovery. Your body needs to slowly adapt to the stresses of running so you need to give yourself enough time to increase miles and intensity safely. Instead of gradually increasing mileage each week try staying at the same mileage for three weeks then increase and stay another three weeks and so on. This allows the body to adapt to the stress instead increasing each week and having the body always play catch up. With anaerobic work you are again putting a huge stress load on the body so you have to allow yourself a few days of easy running or cross training so the repair process can take place. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a day of recovery for every mile run hard to ensure proper recovery.
3). Warm up properly and thoroughly. Tendons and ligaments have very little blood flow when at rest which results in a lack of range of motion. When we run fast at the beginning of a run we force an increased range of motion before there is sufficient blood flow to handle the increase safely thus resulting in increased risk of injury. By running slow for the 15 minutes of each run you significantly increase blood flow without the added range of motion so you can safely handle an increase later in the run.
4). Pay attention to your ph levels. I’ve coached thousands of runners and have never met one that knows their ph level or the importance of their reading. Your ph reading tells you everything you need to know to train and recover properly thus helping prevent injuries. You can use ph strips to test your levels first thing in the morning with a simple saliva test. If you reading is acidic you take an easy day, if it’s slightly alkaline you can run hard. Many things affect your ph levels including training, sleep patterns, diet, outside stresses and environment among other things. If your reading is acidic you can bring it back to balance by eating a more alkaline diet, getting proper amount of sleep and adjusting training.
By following these simple steps not only will you minimize injuries but you will improve your overall running performance.