With the arrival of Spring and some warmer weather more of us may be encouraged to venture outdoors to exercise. For most of us this may include running. Whether you are new to running or a well season runner follow theses tips from our physio Justin Merlino to help prevent common injuries associated with running and to keep yourself running injury free.

1. Effective Warm Up

There is some speculation as to what constitutes an effective warm up, but in my opinion it should involve a period of light aerobic activity to raise the core body temperature to the point of a light sweat, followed by dynamic stretching and then some sport/exercise specific drills. There has been some recent research that has shown dynamic stretching to be more effective than static stretching in preventing injury during exercise. Dynamic stretching might involve exercises such as gentle leg swings, calf raises, walking lunges, high knee running, hamstring kick-backs etc. This should be followed by some drills that are specific to the sport or exercise being undertaken. The entire warm up should take no longer than 30-45mins.

2. Avoid doing too much, too soon, too fast!

Any running program should be progressed gradually to allow the body to adapt to the training load. One of the most common mistakes in a running program is that the training volume and/or intensity is ramped up too fast, too soon. The body doesn’t have enough time to recover and adapt between training sessions and will ultimately result in overuse injury. A good running program should follow a step-like progression, with a gradual increase in training load over a 3-4 week period, followed by a lighter “recovery” week where the training load is slightly reduced. This 4-5 week cycle can be periodised into a full training program in the lead up to any major event or competition.

3. Recovery is key

It is probably the most important factor for preventing injuries and running injury free. Recovery is not only about cooling down and stretching after a training session, but it is also about hydration, nutrition, sleep and appropriate rest time between sessions. All of these components can be approached differently depending on the individual and the type of running being undertaken, but a good balance of all areas is essential in preventing injury.

4. Strength training

This can be a very effective tool for both improving running mechanics and preventing injury. An appropriate strength program can be developed by a health professional that targets specific weaknesses and biomechanical faults, helping to reduce the risk of future injury. Developing good body awareness and control is a great way to build the foundations for a healthy and long running career.

5. Listen to your body

Your body will shout out when an injury is lurking. Pain is the defense mechanism of the brain when there is the risk of bodily harm. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if the pain you’re feeling is just a slight niggle that will go away or if it is something that will turn into an injury. My advice is that if the pain is worsening throughout the session, if it’s altering the way you run, or if it’s above a 3 out of 10 ( 0 being no pain, 10 being excruciating pain) then you should cease running and let it rest for a few days. If it’s still sore on consecutive sessions then you should see a physiotherapist.

If you would like to book an appointment with Justin to discuss any of these tips or any pain you may be experiencing whilst running you can book an appointment with him either by calling (02) 8323 7777 or by clicking here.