By running specialist physiotherapist, Katharina Schaps.
Runners always ask themselves why injuries occur and where things went wrong. Too often the answer is fairly simple; the running mileage, training intensity or frequency were increased too rapidly for your body to catch up. If you exceed the load your body is able to tolerate, the weakest tissue will eventually become over-loaded, inflamed and painful.
Every individual has a different load capacity which is dependent on past and current training, genetics, diet, hormones, stress, weight, age and kinetic chain*. Muscle weakness and poor dynamic stability through your kinetic chain will expose specific tissues to greater loads. This makes these more vulnerable to injury.
The key to injury prevention is to allow time for adaptation to a specific training load. Every training session, in particular long distance or speed sessions will add stress and trauma to your tissue. Recovery time is therefore vital to allow your body to heal itself. Maintaining a healthy diet, allowing for adequate sleep and reducing mental stress will add to your body’s efficiency to heal. Additionally, maintaining good lower limb and core strength will reduce the likelihood of repetitive strain injuries. See my exercise suggestions here.
When setting a training plan, consider what you do outside of running and how much stress this may place on your body. For example, your weekly gym work out, the occasional squash game with a colleague and even psychological stress at work or home. Also take into consideration how much sleep you get and listen to how tired your body is. Most of us, do not do this enough. This should give you a good indication of your load capacity.
When making changes to your running regime the load should only ever be increased by one parameter (either the distance, the intensity or the frequency). Particularly, in preparation for long distance events, the general rule of thumb is that your mileage should not be increased by more than 10% per week.
All in all, preventing running injuries is fairly simple. Listen to your body, plan your training sessions according to your load tolerance and introduce changes gradually. With this in mind, injury is less likely to stand in your ‘running’ way, and if it does, we’d be happy to help you out.
If you have any questions or concerns about your running, I offer running assessments and screening for injury prevention. Looking at your running form as well as examining muscle strength, flexibility and stability could improve your technique, efficiency and keep you injury free
*Kinetic chain is the notion that joints and segments of the body have an effect on one another during movement, ie when one is in motion, it creates a chain of events that affects the movement of the neighbouring joints and segments.