Running has become one of the most common forms of physical activity in today’s society. It can be a community building activity, a personal challenge and most importantly a great work out. It is a sport that everyone can participate in; all you need is a good pair of shoes and a little motivation. That being said running can be extremely hard on your body, especially when you are just starting. We are finding that injuries among runners are very common. From shin splints to rolled ankles, no one is immune from getting hurt; however, here are some tips to keep you healthy and on pace.
Do not do too much, too fast
When runners are just starting and begin to make progress, they tend to push their limits. Although this is a great way to challenge yourself, it is important that you understand your body has a threshold that when exceeded results in injury. Your mileage should be tracked on both a daily and weekly basis. If you have never done much long-distance running, then your weekly mileage should begin quite low. It is important that as you improve your mileage increases gradually. A consensus among the running community is the rule of 10%. Do not increase your mileage by any more than 10% on a week to week basis. For many runners and new runners specifically, 10% may even be too much of a jump. This is why when preparing for a distance race, whether it is a 10k, half marathon or a marathon it is recommended you start as early as possible. Could you train and complete a half marathon in 6 weeks? Maybe, but the toll it could take on your body and the injury risk you are exposing yourself to are likely not worth it. A recent study showed that runners who only increased their mileage by 3% a week had a much higher rate of success in their upcoming races than runners who ramped up their mileage quicker.
So how do you know where to start? First, start with walking. If you can walk an hour a day with out any injury you may start running. As a new runner, start with short runs and accumulate miles over the week. It is important to understand how far you have been running, so I recommend using an app on your phone such as “Map My Run” to help track each run. Personally I have a Garmin GPS watch , that links to Garmin connect. Garmin connect is an app. Most GPS watches can be linked to an app.
Do not run through significant pain
As runners, we all understand some discomfort is a part of the sport. Your legs and feet will likely be sore after a long run; however, if you begin to notice significant pain or discomfort while running consider taking a break. Breaks are one of the hardest things to convince a runner of doing, but it could save you from more severe injury. Aside from the odd rolled ankle, very few running injuries are acute and traumatic. Far more commonly runners ignore the pain and “tough it out” when they begin to feel discomfort.
This can result in a cumulative injury cycle. What is that you might ask? It means if you continue to stress an injury by running, you will continue to make it worse and it can become a much more significant issue. Sometimes all it takes is an extra day off when symptoms are minor to allow your body to recover. This is important because if you have an injury, it is very common for your body to adapt by altering your gait (running pattern).
This may lead you to be less efficient, develop bad habits or in a worst-case scenario cause an injury elsewhere in your body. Remember, everything is connected, so if you are running with a limp the biomechanical stresses will be placed on a different part of your body. Give your body a chance to recover and if you think that an injury is nagging have a medical professional look at it. It is much more beneficial to have an injury taken care with a couple of sessions of treatment rather than letting it persist and having to deal with it when it is much more serious, and your recovery time is extended.
Call the office if you’re having pain. Do not tough it out! It could only get worse. We work with a lot of athletes and help them return to activity. Athletes looking to prevent injuries or perform better see us.