Let’s face it.. injuries happen. Your body is exposed to fast and furious loading rates in repetitions that measure in the tens of thousands. If you Average 30 miles a week at a typical cadence you’re exposed to roughly 38,000 impact–each ranging from 3-5x your body weight. Stretch that out over a year and things can get quite crazy. Take a hammer and lightly tap a rock. Over time the repetitive blows will degrade the rock, causing it to become weak at the site of impact. Your body is no different.
Luckily most of us fall into a grey area. Our body might not be casted from a perfect mold of anatomy, but it can effectively disperse forces while we run. Issues do arise though. A tight muscle here or weakness there can cause your body function abnormally (not the first time you’ve been called abnormal for your running, right?). Your body is tricky though. It won’t tell you immediately. It will, however, compensate, gradually adapting to a tight hip flexor, change in shoes, foot weakness, etc. Your body is like a ninja… ambiguously sneaking up on you until boom.. something hurts and it’s too late. Luckily there are maintenance activities you can do to weather the storm of furious, repetitive impacts.
Your body is like a ninja… ambiguously sneaking up on you until boom.. something hurts and it’s too late.
5 tips to Avoid Injury
1. Training Mistakes
Now, I don’t want to cover the typical “Watch your mileage, don’t increase too quickly” mundane answer, but a rather forgotten shoe transition period. Let’s say you change your shoes every 3,000 miles. That can equate to roughly 1.9 million foot strike PER SHOE! The shoe wears down over time and becomes more flexible–even the under-surface of the shoe changes (go ahead and look at the bottom). Jumping into the ‘same shoe’ to continue your training is a huge no-no and a one way ticket to overuse. As your old pair slowly wore down, your body acclimated to this slow change. Even if you have the same exact shoe, it’s truly not the same. The new shoe will be more rigid and have zero wear, drastically changing your foot mechanics. Transition slowly and overlap your old and new shoes for a few weeks before jumping ship completely.
2. Foam Roll
There’s nothing quite like jamming a hard foam cylinder into a tight muscle. Keep the “Oh, god this hurts” and muffled curses to a dull roar (easier said than done), but it will get easier.. we promise. Using the foam roll a couple times a week can really pay dividends. Set a timer on your phone and spend 60-90 seconds rolling each leg muscle while watching TV before you go to bed.
3. Improve your Balance
You might be shock to know that most runners, although fit athletes, have difficulty balancing on one foot. Go ahead and try it. Working on balance is easy. It can be done washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, standing in line at the store.. wherever. Balance usually equates to strong feet–don’t miss out. If standing on one foot is easy, be dynamic. Try this exercise:
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You like to run… we do too, but there need to have some upkeep. What’s strong one week might be broken the next. Runners who forego any formal strength program are already in the downward spiral to ‘running themselves out of running’. Participating in functional strength and balance workouts will allow you identify your weaknesses, improve upon them, and keep what you have. It can be as simple as 2-30 minute strength and balance workouts a week. You can check out our workouts for free by signing up here.
I get it. I do it too. You get home for a run and you need to get to work, pick up the kids, finish a project.. whatever. You “cool down,” walk into the house, shower, and are on your way to start your day. Here’s the deal though, you don’t need to stretch everything under the sun. Grab some low hanging fruit first. Stretch what needs to be stretched and leave the other stuff alone. If you have loose hamstrings but tight calfs, stretch your calfs and leave your hammy’s alone. The same can be said throughout the body.