Preventing overuse injuries is more about what you do when you’re not running. The crucial time right before and after your run are key times to take care of your body. But most runners ignore this time and only run.
They’re missing a HUGE opportunity to stay healthy, run more, and reach more of their goals. Consistency is the key to success in running, so injury prevention and consistent training should be a focus of your training.
I used to skip these two crucial windows…
Ten or so years ago – the “dark days” of my running when I was always hurt – I would come back from work, change into my running gear, and I would go for an evening run. Whether it was a workout or easy run, I had the same routine. Work, run, and then eat dinner.
When the run was over, I’d change into dry clothes, get some water, and start cooking. After an hour I was ready to eat and sat in the living room around the coffee table. After too much TV, I went to bed and averaged about 6.5 – 7 hours per night.
And that was it. Do you see the problems with this routine?
If not, let me present eight simple “little things” that you can do before or after your run to keep you healthy.
But first, what’s a running overuse injury?
Overuse Injuries are Trauma
Running injuries are too common among most runners. A few studies have put the annual injury rate as high as 75% – meaning three out of every four runners will get hurt every year and need to take significant time off to heal.
That’s just crazy.
Running injuries are quite simply the result of cumulative trauma to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or joints. Running puts a lot of stress on your body! Especially if your technique is poor. Take a look at our events on our facebook page to see when our next running club meeting is, here we learn technique through skills and drills to prefect the best running pose
Injuries happen when the cumulative trauma you’re inflicting on your legs exceeds the rate at which you can recover from that damage. So prioritizing recovery is crucial to not only get faster (your body “absorbs” the training when you rest), but to prevent injuries.
The stress-adaptation graph below illustrates how your body reacts to training. There’s an initial training stimulus (like a workout), a dip in fitness when you feel fatigued and sore, but after you rest enough your body rebounds and BOOM! You’re in better shape than when you started.
We see here that stress is a good thing. Don’t be afraid of the words “cumulative trauma” because it’s why we train!
Alex Hutchinson recently wrote in a great column in Outside Magazine:
In our obsession with minimizing exercise damage, we may have lost sight of the reason we exercise in the first place: to force our bodies to adapt and get stronger.
Once we know that some exercise damage is a good thing, running becomes the careful management of that damage. Run long and hard enough to force as much adaptation as possible while recovering as much as you need to stay healthy.
Fortunately, there are specific ways to not only help you get faster, but manage the damage from running. Say goodbye to running overuse injuries.
Self-massage: learn to love it
Muscle soreness and tightness after a long run or workout are common (and of course, desirable). Sometimes it can be helpful for some self-massage – or a professional massage if you can afford one – to help speed the recovery process.
The fancy term is “myofascial release” and it simply means massage. It can help loosen tight muscles, promote healing blood circulation, and break up scar tissue and soft tissue adhesions. If you have any trigger points in your legs (especially tight and tender to the touch), massage can help release that tight spot.
You can perform self-massage on yourself before you run as part of your warm-up. Just make sure you keep the pressure lighter than usual so you don’t make yourself sore. After you run, you can be a little more aggressive.
Get flexible (but not by stretching)
I don’t support static stretching before or after running – it’s just not effective. Sure, some static stretching after you run doesn’t hurt, but recent studies show that it does nothing for injury prevention. And if you think static stretching before or after your run will prevent muscle soreness – think again.
A better way to promote more functional flexibility is with dynamic stretches. These are simple movements you can do both before and after you run to prepare your body for running, improve your range of motion, warm-up, or increase flexibility.
Not sure where to start? Then call us on 01202 671783 or like our facebook page at www.facebook.com/rebornpt and we’ll ping you our dynamic warmup sheets.
Fuel up after you run
After a long run or hard workout your body craves nutrients and fuel. There’s a window of about 30 minutes when your body is very receptive to the carbs, protein, and nutrients in your post-workout meal. Make sure you either plan ahead and have something ready to eat or have easily prepared, like energy bars, protein supplements, or a shake.
My favorite post-run fuel is a banana and a protein shake. I’ll eat this immediately after I finish my workout and then have a full meal about an hour later. If you’re pressed for time, make the protein shake in advance and you can take this recovery meal with you.
During marathon or other hard training, it’s crucial to give your body what it needs after those tough long runs and lengthy workouts. I’m a proponent of eating a significant amount of protein as a distance runner – that’s what helps repair muscle damage.
Get strong in your living room
Many runners think they need a fancy home gym or an expensive monthly membership to get the benefits of strength workouts. That can’t be further from the truth. You can get strong in your living room with a relatively quick workout.
Focus on the basic exercises and you’ll see real results:
- Side planks
- Push ups
- Pull ups
- Chin ups
Sometimes you just need some quick recovery. That’s where an ice bath or a targeted ice massage (with an ice cup) comes in. Cooling your muscles helps fight inflammation and can speed recovery by reducing how sore you feel. But as we learned earlier, being sore is a good thing so only use ice baths when you’re really sore.
Some of the research on icing is contradictory and doesn’t show a conclusive physiological advantage. Even so, it’s still a common practice among elite runners and I’m a supporter of icing as an effective way to recover from hard workouts through my own personal experiences.
The best way to schedule your ice baths is to use them after an easy run to focus on complete recovery. You can also ice after a particularly hard workout or long run. While you may inhibit some adaptations gained through the workout itself, if you think you ran too much or too hard then it’s worth it.
For the most part, only elite athletes should worry about the tiny percent of fitness they’re losing from an ice bath. Icing has more benefits than drawbacks for “normal” runners like you and me.
Compress your pain away
I’m a massive believer in the technology, even though it does make me look a little silly!!! Compression socks claim to enhance recovery by increasing blood flow to your feet and lower legs. While you’re running this is a non-starter – your legs are getting as much blood as they possibly can anyways. But at rest, they can help a lot.
Recent research has shown that compression socks increase lactic-acid and heart rate recovery after high-intensity running. Coupled with my personal experience that they work very well (wear them to bed!), then I’m comfortable recommending them to other runners.
The best times to use compression gear is after a tough workout or race when you know you’ll need extra help recovering. They can help boost your lower leg blood flow when normally the blood might pool in your extremities – like during periods of prolonged sitting at work or travel.
The other great time to use compression garments is right before a race. They can help your legs feel better after a day of wearing compression socks so you’re ready to race at your best.
Eat a good diet
Whether you’re a paleo runner, vegetarian marathoner, or a proud “regular diet” omnivore like myself, a good eating plan can be hugely beneficial to your recovery and performance. Put a focus on real food like vegetables, fruit, high-quality meat, fish, nuts, and a small amount of whole grains (don’t go crazy with the whole grains, I’ll be covering carb loading soon, and whether you should or shouldnt).
I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to the perfect runner’s diet and it aligns almost perfectly with Michael Pollan’s famous quote from In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: eat food, mostly plants, not too much. Keep it simple and don’t worry so much about your food choices. As long as you’re eating real food you’ll be fine.
Get more sleep
Sleep is a runner’s best friend – prioritize it! Have you ever went to bed hours later than you originally intended because you watched a movie you’ve already seen six times? We’ve all done it and then regretted it the next morning when our alarm goes off.
Your body repairs itself when you sleep. It rebuilds your muscles, builds more mitochondria in response to all the training you’ve been doing, and adapts to your running workload. If you don’t rest then you don’t adapt.
And if you don’t adapt, you don’t become a better runner. Do yourself a favor and get the 8+ hours that your body craves.
Our running club is suitable for recreational runners looking to run with others and for those who would like to improve their running technique and performance, we will also be aiming to get a few of you through the New Forest Half and Full Marathon in September, so training will be geared towards taking the complete beginner or you seasoned runners up to your chosen target times. Those not running the race will not only get a great level of fitness but also lose weight, get toned and feel great.
We will be including, many different aspects of training inc. Strength and Conditioning, Speed and Endurance, Skills and Drills and Injury prevention.
The sessions will be based in the Sandbanks area of Poole, we will meet at RE:Born on Panorama road every Thursday around 6.45. see map here View Larger Map
To find out where each weeks session will take place and meet like our Facebook Page where we will post information before every weeks Running Club session.
Each session will last 60 minutes and include warm up and cool down components as well as technical drills to improve running technique and performance.
Running Club Session Price £5
If you would like to attend the session please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01202 671783
From one time or another, I think we have all felt some form of hip or back pain. If you haven’t you’re lucky….or just lying!
If you have, then trust me the way to sort this out is to aim away from the site of pain and thrust yourself into figuring out what is really going on and where the dysfunction/imbalance that is causing this pain, is originating from. To understand and fix this bio-mechanical malfunction we are going to have to address the way we sit, stand, the way we move in daily life and also realise that so many of our bio-mechanical dysfunctions are not created whilst we’re training.
And that is the key. Everyone thinks that pain, discomfort or spasm occurs while you are training/exercising, but in actuality it’s in your everyday life that your bio-mechanics get thrown off. Ultimately, this compromises your muscular structure and can potentially affect the rest of your life.
Muscles are designed to create and maintain structural integrity in the body.
We have to rely on the structural integrity of the muscles to keep us pain free and allow bio-mechanics to be proper throughout life. Strength, tone, flexibility and hydration are all vital in keeping the muscles healthy.
If you think about it, in order to have structural integrity you must have a solid foundation. I see that foundation as a fully functioning foot with great range of motion; a foot that can support the weight of the upper body no matter what happens. A malfunctioning bio-mechanical chain reaction that begins with the foot can take dysfunction from the lower leg all the way up to the lower back.
The body’s foundation (the foot) is compromised when the soleus muscle in the back of the leg under the calf gets tight and forces you to lose dorsiflection or range of motion in the foot. This happens because the muscles in the lower leg connect in the bottom of the foot, thereby controlling the foot (like a puppet).
When you lose dorsiflection in the foot, the counter muscle on the front of the shin, the anterior tibialis, becomes tight and overworked which forces the knee to go forward. The body’s natural reaction is to adjust for the shift in weight. This creates an unstable platform for the knee and puts added stress on the knee joint. All joints have muscles and tendons that support the functionality of the joint. When the knee joint is compromised, the muscles in the inner, mid, and outer thigh are forced to work harder to maintain the structural integrity of the leg.
When the knees go forward, the butt shifts back. This is when the muscles in the thigh area, the quadriceps, now take a lot of the impact and become overworked. The quads are the biggest muscle group and take the absorption of each step when you run or walk. As the quads become tight they pull up on the patella and because they originate in the pelvic region, the quads will also pull down on the pelvis, forcing an even more dramatic pelvic tilt.
As the pelvis tilts, you may try to lift the upper body to counterbalance the weight. When you try to straighten your upper body and not lean forward, you end up arching your back, therefore, compressing the L4-5 area. The more compression there is on the L4-5 area, the more you compromise the neurological feed to the lower extremities.
Furthermore, when the quads lose their strength and flexibility and become tight and overworked they pull on the pelvis. The opposing muscles/tendons, the IT bands and hamstrings, then lengthen beyond their capacity subsequently creating their own unique aches and pains. Therefore instead of just stretching and massaging the IT bands and hamstrings, you must take the pelvic tilt out of the equation. This will produce better long term results.
Also during this bio-mechanical chain of events, a muscle called the psoas is engaged. The psoas connects in the groin and at T12 in the middle of the back. It unites the front to the back.
When the psoas is strong and flexible, it facilitates good posture and prevents compression on the lower back. On the contrary, when the psoas is challenged it can contribute to the upper body leaning in-front of the pelvis which worsens the compression on the L4-5 area. It also has the capability of compressing the diaphragm consequently compromising your ability to breathe.
Next, the piriformis is a muscle set deep within the glut region. A tight piriformis is a by-product of the pelvic tilt, but more importantly the piriformis can be challenged by the way that you sit.
When you sit, the knees will splay out to the side. As the knees rotate outward, the piriformis will bind up and go into spasm.
As soon as you stand up and walk, the knees come out straight in front of the body, and the piriformis muscle elongates therefore causing pain in the general glute area.
The sciatic nerve runs directly through the piriformis muscle. When the piriformis goes into spasm or tightens it can impinge the sciatic nerve.
If the piriformis and glute region is not managed regularly with massage, a build up of scar tissue and adhesions surrounding the sciatic nerve can compromise the neurological feed to the lower extremities.
Overall, the body’s posture and ability to function properly is influenced by the bio-mechanics and muscular structure. Here you can see the results of bad bio-mechanics and poor weight distribution.
Addressing the lower back independently, you can massage and strengthen the acute area in the back, but fundamentally, you must tackle the bio-mechanical chain to eliminate the root cause of this problem. Basically, you have to redefine the way your foot hits the ground and then eliminate the pelvic tilt.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that every bone has a muscle that surrounds it and every joint has a muscle and a tendon that supports it. If you do not strengthen and create elasticity (with massage) in the muscle, general aches and pains will result. By generating elasticity within the muscle, you are building a sound platform for structural integrity and positive biomechanics.
How to fix this issue, with some daily trigger point therapy and a hockey, cricket or tennis ball.
Well stayed tuned for the how to fix the issues. I will upload a video o my blog very soon.