Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise; whether you head out for the occasional jog around the park or you’re training for your fifth marathon, chances are you’ve laced up a pair of running shoes at some point in your life. It’s accessible, it’s mostly free, and it’s a great way to get moving and get some fresh air - but it can also be hard on the joints if you don’t pay attention to your form.
We see lots of runners, both occasional and professional, and there are a few common mistakes we see runners making. If you’d like to avoid injury and enjoy a long and happy life of running, here are some top tips for safe running from your friendly Camden physiotherapist.
1. Remember the 10% rule
One of the biggest causes of injury for runners is doing too much too fast - either increasing your mileage or your training intensity too quickly. Your muscles, tendons and joints need time to adjust to new stress, and if you overload them you could end up with a strain or tear that takes weeks to heal. It can be difficult to pace yourself if you’re feeling strong, but your body will thank you in the long run. Try to increase your running volume or intensity by no more than 10% each week.
2. Don’t underestimate strength training
You might think that the best thing you can do to improve your running performance is to focus purely on running - but strength training is a great way to enhance your performance. Resistance training helps build stability in your joints, and can also help you avoid injury. Building strength in the muscles that bear a lot of force while you’re running means they’re less likely to strain or cause a knock-on injury such as tendon strain.
3. Flexibility is important
Most runners will go through a cursory stretch at the end of a run - but it’s worth spending an extra 10 minutes stretching before and after your workout and developing a stretching routine specifically designed for runners (your Physio can help advise on this!). Stretching can help ease soreness, avoid injury, and warm up your muscles before you start. Focus on dynamic stretching pre-run (where you avoid holding a stretch, as this can strain cold muscles) and pay special attention to the muscle groups in your legs, hips, and lower back, spending more time on any areas you’ve injured before or that feel particularly tight.
4. Use a training plan
If you’ve got any sort of running goal in mind - maybe a half-marathon or marathon, running your first 5k, or even running your first mile - a training plan is a great place to start. It’ll help you stay on track, avoid over- or under-training, and achieve your goal on time. There are lots of free plans available online for all sorts of distances and training goals, or speak to your Physio for a tailored plan that takes into account your lifestyle, your body and your personal goals.
5. Explore other types of movement
Changing up your activities will stop you getting bored or burned out, and there are all sorts of activities out there that can help you build flexibility, strength, agility and endurance. Yoga, pilates, Reformer Pilates, rollerskating; the sky’s the limit, and any type of physical activity will have some benefits to your running performance.
If you’d like advice on starting running, training for a race, improving your running performance or any other movement goal, book a session with our Camden Physiotherapists here at Guy Golds in Camden or Kentish Town. They’ll take the time to listen to you and will tailor a plan designed just for you.