Hopefully, you have read my last post on setting your running goals for 2017 and have spent some time thinking about and identifying your running goals for 2017. In addition to setting goals, I also feel it is important to identify the potential obstacles that could stand in your way of achieving these goals. In this article, I will discuss one of these and how you can minimize the chance of this obstacle standing in your way. The potential obstacle I am going to discuss in this post, which often prevents many runners from achieving their goals, is…injuries.
Research has shown that each year approximately 50-80% of runners sustain a running-related injury! Some of these injuries are serious enough to prevent runners from achieving their goals. I don’t want this to be the case for you!
Therefore, in this article I share with you some of the most common causes of injury. I will also discuss how to address some of these causes. In future posts and videos, I will discuss how to minimize the risk of some of the other causes of injury discussed in this article.
So stay tuned…
The most common causes of injury are:
- Sudden change in the intensity and/or volume of running. In other words, increasing the volume and/or intensity of your training program workouts too quickly. Also, excessive or a sudden increase in hill running, especially downhill running can increase your risk of injury.
- Muscle weaknesses, especially in those muscles that stabilize the spine, hips, and pelvis
- Wearing worn or improper shoes
- Running on uneven, sloped surfaces, especially if one leg is always on the downslope
- Improper running form or mechanics that may causes issues such as overstriding and/or excessive pounding of the feet
- Excessive running on hard surfaces
Other potential causes of injuries:
- Unequal leg lengths or bowlegs
- Low bone mineral density
- Missteps or decreased attention to unstable running surfaces
Some ways to address these causes of injury:
- Follow a training program in which you slowly and progressively increase your training volume and training intensity so that these are appropriate for your current fitness level and running history
- Allow for proper recovery in between workouts, especially higher intensity workouts and longer distance runs
- Wear proper shoes, in a previous article I discussed some important features to look for in a proper running shoe:
- Vary terrain, so that you are not always running on roads and/or sidewalks, try to incorporate trails/hard-packed dirt or a treadmill, which have more give
- Minimize the amount of running you do on slope or slanted surfaces
- Strengthen muscles, including the glutes and other hip, pelvic and spine stabilizers, which are commonly weak in runners. I will discuss this more, including exercises that can be beneficial, in future posts and videos
- If you haven’t done so, have your running form assessed. I will discuss some key aspects of running form in a future post.
- Include a proper warmup, such as a dynamic warmup, and cooldown that includes foam and/or tennis/lacrosse ball rolling and/or active isolated stretching (unless you want to hold static stretches for three minutes, which research has indicated is necessary for static stretching to be effective). More on these in upcoming posts…
So, these are the most common causes of injury and a few things you can do to avoid these, and thus minimize your risk of injury. I want to briefly talk about one of these causes a bit more because it is such a common cause of injuries in runners. I know that it significantly contributed to my developing plantar fasciitis in both feet; a painful injury that kept me from running for nine months!
A major cause of my injury was significant muscle weaknesses, especially in the glutes and other hip and pelvic stabilizers. These muscles are typically weak in runners, mainly due to the fact that many of us spend a significant portion of the day seated. Also, many runners don’t focus on training these muscles to properly strengthen and engage them. If these muscles are weak and not engaged, it is critical that we strengthen and engage them.
To help address this potential issue, especially for injury prevention and for being a more efficient, and thus, faster runner, I am developing a program that will focus on properly strengthening and engaging the muscles that play a critical role in stabilizing the hips, pelvis, and spine. I am developing this program so that the exercises don’t require special equipment or a gym membership. Also, these exercises won’t take a significant amount of time to perform, but will still be effective.
I have this program about 80% complete, however I want to ask for your input as to what you would want in such a program. You can provide your input in the comment box below. I’d love to hear what you have to say!
“Injuries” presentation by Dr. Richard Hansen
Anatomy for Runners. Jay Dicharry
Running Injuries: Strategies and Preventions. Erin Hughes