Prevention and Treatment of Running Injuries

Whether you are a seasoned runner or new to the sport, every time you run the tissues in your lower body, pelvis, trunk and even your shoulders and neck, are subject to a stress load that will either make you stronger or break you down, depending on your running technique, training adjuncts and recovery efforts.

No one ever got stronger during a workout; it is only after hard work that your fitness and injury prevention capacity evolves. The stress placed on your body during running stimulates a healing reaction from the body that will result in a “shoring” up of the tissue as your body attempts to get stronger and better able to tolerate the load. If you help your body adapt to the stress by following the science of warm up and recovery you become stronger and more resilient to injury.

Before workouts

Hydration and Nutrition: Recovery efforts need to begin before your run even starts. Be sure you are well hydrated and nourished going into all workouts. You must have taken in calories in the form of a meal or snack within two hours of the start of your run and be sure your are drinking regularly throughout the day.

Stretching: is an essential part of your warm up. Stretching muscles and connective tissue structures (tendons ligaments and fascia) to their normal resting length will allow for proper running mechanics and makes them less susceptible to the stress involved with running.

Warm Up: Always begin with a slow pace and take five minutes to build up to your training pace. The slow increase in tissue temperature makes your tissues less susceptible to injury and improves the lubrication of the joints to avoid excess wear and tear to joint surfaces.

During Workouts

Form: Maintain good form throughout your workout by focusing in the three aspects of good mechanics:

  1. Arm swing: swing the arm as one unit with all movement from the shoulder. Keep your arms tracking at your sides.
  2. Knee lift: focus on leading your leg swing by lifting the knees in front
  3. Turn over: keep your feet moving! Cadence is defined at the number of steps you take per minute. A higher step count prevents over striding which is the number one cause of running injuries.

Hydration and Calories: Towards the end of a workout it is important to stay well hydrated and maintain energy stores with adequate calorie intake. This way you are not subjecting yourself to unnecessary stress that will only add to your recovery needs.

Don’t Sprint: Never sprint or pick up your pace at the end of a training run when you are fatigued and most susceptible to muscle and tendon strains. In addition it makes no sense loading your muscles up with lactic acid and before shutting down your circulatory system.

After Workouts

Cool Down: All workouts must end with a “cool down” to flush the waste products from your muscles. This can be as simple as a five minute jog or walk to allow the “muscle pump” to rid the muscles of waste products and assist your recovery.

Nutrition and Hydration: There exists a 15 minute window after your workout that your body is best equipped to take in calories and begin the recovery process. Immediately after runs is when you should begin replenishing the fuel you have spent. Add some protein to the mix and it will jump start the repair of the muscle damage suffered in that workout.

Stretching: Stretching not only helps “wring” the waste products out of your muscles but helps the muscle and tendons “heal” with a functional scarring as they adapt to the stress placed on them in the workout. This is how to toughen your body against injury

Foam Roller: This is the biggest advance in recovery techniques and injury prevention since stretching became a scientific training adjunct. The foam roller flattens the muscles and tendons and breaks adhesions that form as the body attempts to heal and recover from the stress of training. The foam roller also further assists the removal of waste products from the muscle. Tip: after workouts stretch and roll when the tissues temperatures are still elevated. This helps elongate the connective tissues and will make the foam roller experience less painful.

Ice: The “frozen miracle” is great for recovery and limits the inflammation that results when tissues are strained during workouts. Don’t wait for pain to ice! Ice tight and tired muscles and joints to avoid injury and the time you will need to recover when injury occurs.

When Injury Occurs: There is a sport medicine idiom that states that it takes two days of active recovery for every day you run in pain. If you feel pain in the same area of your body twice in any 7 day period, consider yourself uninjured and start immediately to address the problem before it gets worse. Rest alone does not fix running injuries. All rehabilitation efforts must be active, not passive to be effective.

Can you Run with an Injury? If you are having pain in your daily activities you cannot run. If you cannot run pain free, you cannot run (It is not good enough that the pain subsides after you warm up) However, you need to find a cross- training modality that is pain free to maintain your fitness. If your injury is only bothersome with speed work, hills and longer distances you might be able to continue to run as you seek active rehabilitation. First you must check to see if your shoes have broken down, and if so, replace them. Cut your weekly mileage in half, and avoid all higher intensity workouts, i.e. speed work, hills and longer distances. Stretch three times a day, followed by icing with ice cubes and water in a bag (not a gel pack) for twenty minutes each application. If the pain persists, seek immediate evaluation by a qualified clinician with experience treating runners.

By Robert Forster, PT

Phase IV Run Lab Analysis clinic

Wednesday, January 30th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
> Run Gait Check and Shoe Check
> Flexibility & Posture Screening
> Training Plan Review &
> Nutrition Optimization Class

One Response to Prevention and Treatment of Running Injuries

  1. […] This article by Robert Forster provides tips on what do before, during and after a run to minmise the risks of injury. Robert has a successful history of helping motivated athletes of all abilities and ages, in all sports, attain their performance goals, and do it injury free. His  programs have been utilized for 25 years to help create dozens of Olympic gold medalists, NBA champions, Ironman world record holders, Wimbledon and US Open champions. In the process numerous world records have been set. […]

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