How to stop running yourself into injury

We’ve all been there at one time or another…pulling on our trainers for a nice long run, only to feel aches that we know we shouldn’t be feeling. Because nothing gets in the way of our running routine like pain.

Unfortunately, running injuries happen to the best of us – even experienced runners can suffer from dreaded common running-related pains – and being left unable to run can really slow you down, both physically and mentally. Injuries including shin splints, runner’s knee, stress fractures and Achilles tendonitis are just a few of those that prevent you from getting out there doing what you love.

But why do so many suffer from running injuries? Injuries can happen when you push yourself too hard, too fast. Running puts a huge amount of pressure on our bodies but, over time, can strengthen and improve the endurance of our joints, muscles, tendons and bone cells. However, if you increase the pressure too quickly or change the type of pressure you are putting your body under, for example a change in intensity, terrain or technique, you can do yourself more harm than good.

Prevention is therefore key to avoiding running injuries, so how can we help ourselves? Here are some key factors to think about:

  • Find the right running shoes. This may seem simple, but so many people underestimate the importance of a good pair of trainers. Many running retailers offer gait analysis to check the structure of your feet and give advice on the footwear most suited to you, which can make all the difference to your running technique
  • Build up your mileage over time – don’t push yourself to do a 10k on your first run! Start small and build up to your target distance over time – your body will thank you for it.
  • Stretch before and after running – if you notice that running is causing any particular muscles to feel tight, stretch them before and after, otherwise your movement in these muscles can be limited when running, increasing the risk of injury
  • Listen to your body – if your body feels tired, slow down. Take a day off if you need it – rest is essential to let your muscles recover. Don’t put yourself – or your body – under unnecessary pressure!

But how do physiotherapists help you if you do get sidelined by injury?

Physiotherapists can work with runners to review your training plan and running style and technique to determine whether this may be contributing to your injury. They will also analyse any potential imbalances you may have in your muscles and joints, as well as the overall strength of your muscles.

Once they have identified the likely cause of your injury, they will put a treatment plan in place tailored to you to both ease the pain of the injury and strengthen the area causing the pain. This can include a program of exercises to help strengthen the damaged muscles or joints, massage, acupuncture and strapping the injured area to reduce strain. A period of rest can also be important to give the injury time to heal.

But whatever the injury, your physiotherapist will discuss your tailored step by step recovery process with you to minimise the risk of future injury, keeping you on your feet and out running – right where you want to be.

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