Running is a great way to improve your fitness, clear your head, and (if you choose to run outside) an opportunity to get some fresh air. Not to mention the ‘runner’s high’! Lots of the patients we see enjoy running as a way to get moving, and we often get questions about how to avoid running injuries, whether you’re a new runner or a seasoned marathoner.
Humans have been running for centuries, and while our bodies have evolved over time to improve our ability to run further and for longer, running injuries are still one of the most recurring client conditions that our Osteopaths and Physiotherapists in Camden work with.
If you’re new to running, having to hang up your running shoes before you’ve even got going can feel disappointing, and if you’ve been running for a few years you may have already experienced an injury or two, and had to take time out of your running schedule while your body recovers.
There’s no need to let the fear of an injury dampen your motivation to hit the pavement (or treadmill!) - there’s a lot you can do to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Here are our top tips for avoiding running injuries.
1. Take adequate rest between runs
No matter how much experience you have, your muscles still need time to rest and recover after exercise. It can feel like taking a step back, but giving yourself plenty of time to recover will benefit your stride long term.
Especially if you’re new to running, try to leave a rest day between each run - these days are a great chance to explore a new walk near you or do some gentle stretching.
2. Gradually increase your distance and pace
It can be tempting to push yourself further and faster on each run, but this can have the opposite effect! Increasing too much too quickly is one of the most common causes of injuries seen by our physiotherapists. We recommend waiting to increase your distance until you’ve completed the same run twice without any pain or discomfort. If in doubt, stick to the ’10% rule’ - never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% of the previous week.
Start slow and take it easy - this will make your running practice much safer and more enjoyable in the long run.
3. Wear the right shoes
Correct footwear is vital to keeping your joints safe. They don’t need to be expensive, but it’s worth spending a little extra time choosing shoes that are the right fit, with proper arch support and shock absorption.
And if you already own a great pair of running shoes, be mindful of how long you’ve had them for. Experts recommend replacing your running shoes every 400-600 miles.
4. Stretch before and after
A stretched muscle will respond to stress better, so not only will stretching before your run reduce your risk of injury, it will also improve your performance. Stretching after your run will help to remove lactic acid that’s built up in your muscles.
6. Maintain good posture while running
As well as proper preparation and after care, how we hold our bodies while running will also affect our risk of injury. Keep your gaze forward and ears in line with shoulders, keeping your core engaged and shoulders square and relaxed.
Not sure if you’re getting it right? Checking in with an experienced professional like an Osteopath or Physiotherapist at our Camden clinic can help you find your best stance.
If you’re suffering from a running injury or would like tailored advice on how to prevent one, you can book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists at our practice in Camden.