Running – when you’re fit enough to run, to really run, it feels amazing and simple – just you, your running shoes and the ability to go wherever your legs can take you.
Running is different things to different people: a moment of mindfulness and awareness of yourself; a sacred, quiet time at the start or end of the day; a time to think; to compete; or to socialise.
Running can be a truly life-affirming exercise. However, it’s rare for people to uphold a consistent running routine throughout life, and our time on the pavements, trails, roads can wax and wane, ebb and flow. So if you’ve been more ebb than flow with running, here are 5 things to remember when returning to running, to ensure you don’t end up with a running-related injury just when it’s getting good again.
- Our bodies like building up to load gradually. Too much too soon increases the risk of injury.
Incidence and prevalence of running injury in long-distance runners are high, ranging from 20 – 80% of runners. The predominant site of these injuries is the knee (7-50%), with other lower and upper leg injuries being next most prevalent.
Evidence indicates that long weekly training distances and a history of previous injury are risk factors for injury. Our bones and tissues will adapt to the loads under which they are placed, however, they need time to make these adaptations. Getting the right balance of training load while building tissue load capacity is key in mitigating running injuries, thus gradually increasing your running distance will help to minimise the risk of injury to your body, particularly your knees.
- Be fit to run
The fitter we are, the better we can run. The overall load experienced by your body can be significantly reduced through: good running form; a relatively quick cadence; and less ground contact time. This can be achieved by having: cardiovascular fitness to maintain good form; leg speed; and enough strength and recoil in our tissues to minimise ground contact time. Building up to this slowly will make all the difference.
- Cross-training – cardiovascular fitness, hip, core, and leg strength and stability is where it’s at.
Including other cardiovascular fitness routines in your training will help you get fitter quicker without overloading your body with running. Consider incorporating swimming, cycling, spin, and/or Tabata/HIIT classes between runs to help increase cardiovascular fitness.
Strengthening is preventative because it helps your tissues adapt to load. Running-focused strength routines are usually based on exercises around the lower leg, thigh and hip, pelvis and core to support the hip, knee and lower limbs. Exercise physiology sessions, Studio Pilates and group classes such as Barre, Reformer, Mat and TRX can be fantastic additions to your cross-training.
(Read our Hip, Core and Lower Leg Strength for Endurance Runners blog for more tips!)
- Our bodies need rest
When you’re starting out or getting back into running, allow a rest day between each active day.
Without rest, you cannot recover, and without recovery, improvement may slow and you may become susceptible to injury. It’s okay to incorporate stretching, mobilising and light yoga on your recovery days – just make sure you’re taking it easy.
As your body adapts and strengthens you can start to change up your training and rest schedule to incorporate more running and exercise. Your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can provide invaluable advice in planning your training and rest schedule.
Other great additions to your training regime are regular myotherapy or remedial massage sessions, which help maintain good tissue quality and joint range of motion. Once every 2-4 weeks is recommended, depending on your running load.
- Good shoes are important
It is worth investing in a pair of shoes that effectively support your feet and lower limbs. If you’re a runner from way back, you’ve probably already found a brand or style that you know and love. If you’re not sure, seek advice from your physio or a specialist running shoe retailer. Ensure you replace your shoes when they are worn – a general rule of thumb is at around 500 + kilometres or approximately every 6 months if you’re running frequently.
If you would like assistance to improve your running form or training schedule, have any running-related discomfort that requires attention, or would like to be guided through exercises in a personalised class, call the friendly admin team at The Body Refinery.
Our Refined Runner program may be just the thing for you. Our team includes diploma-qualified Pilates Instructors, Physiotherapists, and Exercise Physiologist, and an Osteopath who enjoy helping runners achieve their goals, pain-free and in good form. Additionally, our hands-on Myotherapist and Remedial Massage Therapists are here to help keep you in top form.
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