5 Ways to Stay on the Road and Prevent Injury
Runners are a unique breed. We run, sure, but that’s only the half of it. We tell tales of running at the crack of dawn, of sprinting through a blizzard or a heat wave. Remember that time you made a doughnut burger after your long run--something about a salty sweet craving? Your family and friends know your stories of euphoria and bliss, of 20-milers and PRs. And then, suddenly during your easy Monday morning run, a dull ache from the night before becomes something truly painful, and you are left to relive your glory days from the couch. Out for days, weeks, or months, it is easy to get let down by injury, and lose that sense of pride and satisfaction from great workouts or races. It’s no surprise that runners get pretty down when suffering from injuries, but there’s great news--there are steps you can take to actively prevent them! So what should you do to keep on the roads and trails? Here’s five tips to keep you going strong:
Maybe you’ve heard of ‘prehab’ and maybe you haven’t. But, it’s an important way to stay fit and keep your muscles and joints happy. The concept is simple, exercises and warm-ups performed before intense running efforts will help your body be ready to go hard. This gets both your mind and body ready to really work, and gives your muscles some time to prepare for the effort. Some great examples of these types of exercises can be found here:
Post-Workout Stretching and Form Drills:
You’ve just finished your hour long run--time to hit the couch and catch up on Colbert, right? Wrong. Post-workout stretches and form drills are an important part of training with injury prevention in mind. Stretches help keep your muscles loose after a workout, and can help strengthen the muscle fibers you use day in and day out. Form drills are great to remind your body how to stay efficient and fast, even when your body is tired. Plus, as seasoned runner and coach Jason Fitzgerald notes, “running is a skill, like any other athletic movement, and needs to be done efficiently if you want to prevent injuries and run fast.” Read here (http://strengthrunning.com/2010/06/how-to-run-like-chris-solinsky-improve-your-form-to-prevent-injuries/) to learn more about how you can improve your running form and work to prevent injuries.
Strength and Core Training:
It’s true, to get better at running, one needs to run. And as runners, we often feel happiest on the roads and trails. But, getting into the gym for strength training is a valuable, and often underutilized tool for runners looking to keep at it for the long haul. Running is a repetitive motion, and it’s hard on the leg muscles we use time and time again. Strengthening running muscles, and the muscles that support your running is valuable for balance and flexibility, and can prevent season-busting injuries. For a quick core strength workout, try this: http://strengthrunning.com/2012/01/the-standard-core-routine-video-demonstration/
A solid runner is helped along by quality running shoes. Are you an overpronater running in neutral shoes? Is lack of cushioning bothering your joints as you up your plans’ mileage? Seeking the assistance of those trained to help find the right shoe for every individual’s needs is one way to make running more enjoyable, and can work to prevent injuries as you continue running. Everything from arch pain to IT Band issues can sometimes be solved with correct footwear.
It’s important to listen to your body, and rest when appropriate. Did this weeks’ speed session leave you feeling tired and sore for more than a couple of days? Maybe it’s time for a day off to let those small muscle fibers heal. You may bounce back stronger for your next hard effort. How about an extra stressful week at work? Factors outside of running, too, can leave your body in a state of perceived stress, which can lead to fatigue and injury during your workouts. Really look at your training plan carefully during busier weeks, and make sure you allow enough time to rest and relax your body and your mind.
Are you looking to stay strong in your running? Have you just returned from an injury, and are looking to stay healthy? Sign up for a free email course on injury prevention and smarter training below (free): (link provided)
**All links and quotes are credited to Jason Fitzgerald, strengthrunning.com