Each year, several runners are unable to make it to the marathon for which they have been training- for months altogether.
Why, you ask? – Because they all would be recovering from the running injuries they suffered in their training period. Research regarding injuries has brought to light that while there is no magic mantra that runners can follow to avoid injuries (owing to the difference in frameworks and anatomies of each runner), there are common ways which a majority of runners may use to prevent some injuries.
The best medical advice I have gotten when it came to running injuries (and pretty much any other avoidable harm) was that prevention is better and easier than cure. If you are a pro runner, you may be able to relate to this all too well. If you are a beginner, read on to understand the kind of injuries you may get running and how you can actively prevent them.
Tight Iliotibial Band – More commonly referred to as IT Band Syndrome, this is an injury that runners suffer with due to weak muscles of the gluteal, hip and abdominal areas. The IT band is a connective tissue that helps in keeping your knees steady while walking or running. A tight IT band may result in sharp pain on your leg, especially above the knees.
Sprains – Runners usually suffer from ankle sprains. Ankle sprains are a common injury that happens to runners when they overstrain their ligaments or land on their foot incorrectly. Sprains cause swelling, pain and difficulty in moving.
Runner’s Knee – A runner’s knee can be caused by weak hips or weak leg muscles, coupled with overuse or overstraining of muscles. It causes pain around the kneecap and on the knee. This condition can be serious if ignored and not treated well.
Shin Splints – Shin splints are quite common and are experienced by runners that attempt to run too long too fast. It causes pain along and near the shinbone, on your lower leg. It can be treated easily but should not be ignored and can progress quickly.
Now that we have looked at some of the most commonly faced running injuries, how they are caused and what kind of harm they do, let us also look at how to prevent them. Injuries are most often caused by carelessness and overtraining, so pay attention to these golden rules to avoid getting injured while you train.
This point cannot be stressed enough. Your muscles need to be woken up and warmed before you plunge right into your 30-minute run. Running without warming up is reason enough for injury, even if you do everything else right. You need to warm up for at least 5 minutes, even on a warm day. Plan a warmup exercise that will give your entire body a good stretch. Hint: Yoga.
- Strength training
Most of the injuries you read above have ‘weak muscles’ as a pivotal cause. Strong muscles protect against a variety of injuries, aside from increasing your endurance and stamina to run long distances. Lift some weight and train all those muscle groups. A strong body provides incredible impact against injuries, and if you are training for a big run, there is nothing like strength training to prepare you for it. Come up with a workout plan that targets all your muscles and train religiously.
- Consciously improve Posture
Another trigger for injuries is bad posture. An overly arched back, bent upper back, consistently landing too hard on your foot can all welcome injuries all too quickly. Every time you run, make sure your posture is right. Maintain a good, comfortable posture by keeping your back straight, head and neck straight, and swinging arms back and forth while you run. A good posture prevents many injuries.
Wearing the right shoes is crucial to prevent running injuries. The golden rule that runners swear by is to get shoes that you actually feel comfortable in and one that does not put stress on any part of your foot. Try out a couple of pairs and figure out what works best for you. No one model will work best for everyone. Remember the keyword: Comfort.
ASICS India makes running shoes that are made using Gel Technology- to enhance comfort and prevent injury through rearfoot and forefoot cushioning. Check out different versions of these shoes to find one that is best for you.