Five Steps To Reduce The Risk Of Running-related Injuries

Running is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy, but it’s important to take steps to prevent injuries that can occur from repetitive stress. With the City To Surf and Sydney marathon fast approaching, we are seeing more patients come through the door with running-related injuries. So here are five key strategies recommended to reduce the risk of an injury moving forward!

1. Running Load Management

One of the most crucial aspects of injury prevention in running is managing your running load effectively. Running load refers to the combination of distance, speed, frequency, and intensity of your runs over time. Sudden increases in any of these factors can overload your muscles, tendons, and joints, leading to injuries such as shin splints, more advanced bone stress injuries, and chronic tendon pain.

To manage your running load:

  • Gradual Progression: Increase your mileage or intensity progressively. A good rule of thumb is to increase by no more than 10% per week.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow for adequate rest days between harder workouts to give your body time to repair and adapt.
  • Cross-Training: Incorporate activities like swimming or cycling to reduce the repetitive impact on your legs, but still target your aerobic energy system.

2. Increasing Your Running Cadence

Running cadence, or the number of steps you take per minute, plays a significant role in reducing the stress on your joints and muscles. Increasing your cadence to at least 170 steps per minute can help reduce the risk of overstriding and lower limb injuries.

To improve your running cadence:

  • Use a Metronome: Use a metronome app or device to set your cadence and match your steps to the beat. A good strategy is to download Spotify playlists which have specific cadence targets, and this can be used for different music genres!
  • Shorten Your Stride: Focus on taking shorter, quicker steps rather than longer strides, which can decrease impact forces on your legs.

3. Strength Training

Strength training is essential for runners to build strong muscles, improve joint stability, and prevent imbalances that can lead to injuries. Targeting key muscle groups such as the core and lower body can enhance your efficiency and resilience by reducing the energy cost of running. A stronger muscle is a more durable muscle.

And no, don’t worry, strength training won’t make you slower or more bulky! If done correctly, it can only enhance your running performance.

4. Proper Footwear and Running Form

Wearing appropriate footwear and maintaining good running form are essential for injury prevention. Poor fitting shoes or poor running mechanics can lead to common lower limb injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy and other common overuse injuries.

Tips for choosing running shoes:

  • Get Fitted: Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for shoes that match your foot type and running style.
  • Replace Regularly: Replace your shoes every 500-800 km or when they show signs of wear to maintain adequate support and cushioning.

5. Listen to Your Body and Seek Professional Advice

Perhaps the most important step in injury prevention is listening to your body. Pain or discomfort that persists during or after running may be a sign of an underlying issue that needs attention. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to more serious injuries and longer recovery times.

When to seek professional advice:

  • Persistent Pain: If you experience pain that doesn’t improve with rest or worsens over time.
  • Biomechanical Issues: Consult a physiotherapist or sports medicine specialist if you have concerns about your running form or biomechanics.
  • Injury Prevention Programs: Consider joining a running clinic or working with a coach to develop a personalized injury prevention plan.

By implementing these five steps into your running routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of running-related injuries and enjoy the benefits of a safe and sustainable running practice. Remember, prevention is key to staying healthy and active for the long run.

Morrie Toum – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Morrie Toum – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Morrie completed a Doctor of Physiotherapy at Macquarie University after completing his undergraduate degree and Honours thesis in Sport and Exercise Science at University of Technology Sydney.

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