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Prevent Running Injuries with These 5 Tips

With cold weather on the horizon, it’s easy to understand why runners may not be inclined to lace up and face the bitter New England cold. Many runners fall victim to deconditioning over the next few months as shorter days, holiday events, and inclement weather complicate their training. Even the most tested athlete can be tempted to skip valuable training sessions and sabotage a promising running season.

Winter should serve as a time for every runner to reflect back on their training and address strength deficits that may affect their running performance. Many running injuries are preventable and a result of seemingly simple mistakes. At KINISI, we offer a functional movement assessment customized to the needs of the running community. This assessment includes a comprehensive evaluation identifying structural and mechanical factors impacting the overall risk for injury. Fortunately, many of these errors are correctable and can be treated with the right guidance. Proper preparation is the key to preventing injury and improving overall performance.

Here are the top 5 tips to decrease your chance of injury and keep you on the starting line.

1. MONITOR YOUR MILEAGE

It is very common for runners to increase their mileage too fast, leading to a number of overuse injuries such as muscle strains, tendonitis, and bone stress reactions. The most important part of any running program is progressive increase in volume. Conservative guidelines will recommend increasing your cumulative mileage no more than 10% a week. Consider easing into running consecutive days if you haven’t been as diligent over the winter months and vary your program intensity day-to-day. An interval walk/jog program is advised for individuals coming back after injury to gradually return to running.

2. STRENGTHEN YOUR LOWER BODY

Many runners skip strengthening their lower body and assume running itself is enough. Unfortunately, many running-related injuries are a result of weakness in the lower extremities. Single leg strengthening emphasizing the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hamstring groups are a critical part of any runner’s strength program. These muscles function as shock absorbers and attenuate the impact of running. Exercises such as single leg squats, single leg deadlifts, and single leg bridges target these muscle groups effectively. Incorporating other core strengthening exercises such as front planks, side planks, anti-rotation presses, and bird dogs are also great adjuncts to this program.

3. JUMP TRAINING

Jump training (also known as plyometric training) is an important component to prepare the body for the impact of running. Each stride has a similar load on the body as a single leg hop. Therefore, initiating a single leg plyometric program is a great way to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and bones. These exercises also promote gains in neuromuscular control. Improving the ability to hop with adequate control can mitigate joint stress reaction and improve the efficacy of each stride.

4. ACTIVE REST

Rest and recovery are probably the most overlooked part of training. All rest is not created equal. Participating in active recovery can actually help the body bounce back from hard training days faster and perform better. Compliment runs with non-impact training days. This includes aqua jogging, cycling, or yoga. Take an active role in your recovery and listen to your body.

5. FOOTWEAR

If there is any equipment to keep tabs on for a runner, it’s all about footwear. Most running shoes have a shelf life of about 300 miles. Make sure you are keeping track of your cumulative mileage and swap out your sneakers when they are getting worn. It is also key to pick a running sneaker that compliments your foot type and your running style. Individuals that over pronate might benefit from a more supportive running shoe whereas, an individual with a more rigid foot might not need that much support. Are you a forefoot runner, midfoot, or rearfoot runner? These variables can affect which sneaker is best for you.

Interested in a formal running assessment? Our team of running experts perform a 60-minute assessment looking at modifiable risk factors that might lead to injury and ways to improve your running economy. Call KINISI today to schedule your evaluation!

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