Prevent a running injury with these uncommon tips
Nothing is more frustrating than a running injury. It can mean weeks or months of inactivity and quickly dashes the hopes of competing in an upcoming race. Besides limiting mileage to 10% increases per week, there are a few other ways to prevent a running injury that many runners neglect to take advantage of.
Less of a running specific tip, losing weight still has tremendous bearing on your running performance. If you lose a few pounds of excess weight, your legs will have that much easier a time bearing up to the stress of pounding away at the pavement. Besides preventing injury, even just one pound of weight loss will take significant seconds (and minutes) off your racing performance.
The best way to lose weight is gradually, by cutting calories while staying active. Avoid crash diets, as these lack the nutritional value your body needs to repair itself from the rigors of training.
One of the most effective ways to recover after a workout and prevent an injury is to take an ice bath. It's effective at constricting the flow of blood vessels that lead to swelling in the legs, and helps to flush out waste byproducts from metabolism on the run.
It's not as bad as it sounds. Fill your tub with enough water to cover your legs, and add a few buckets of ice. The temperature should be near 50 degrees (but not colder!). You can keep your running shorts and socks on as you take the plunge if you like- it will be just as effective. The initial cold shock will wear off after a short time. Sit in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes, but not too much longer as there can be issues with lowering your body temperature too far.
Too many runners land with a heelstrike, which compounds the stress on their body. Elite runner Ryan Hall lands with a foot perfectly flat, which makes for as little braking against the ground as possible. It's difficult to do this as an amateur racer, but you can still mimic this by shortening your stride. Aim at cadence, not length. This means you should run with a quicker, not longer stride. Try to make your foot land directly under your body, and make up for the lost length with a quicker turnover. You'll see the results are often an increase in speed and less injury forces at play.
Improve your core
Too many recreational runners miss out on one of the most effective injury prevention techniques known: building core strength. If you expect your feet to stay happy, you need to get everything above them involved in the exercise too! The hip flexors, glutes, and abdominals all stabilize the body while launching from one foot strike to the next. If all you do is run, your body will inevitably break down in the lower reaches, be it your feet or shins or knees.
To improve core strength, try lunges, squats, leg lifts, and sit-ups. There is also a dynamic (and easy!) core building routine called the Myrtl routine. It's well worth the effort!
We're all busy, but sleep shouldn't be sacrificed to fit in too many extra miles. Sleeping is when your body releases Human Growth Hormone to repair all of the damage done on your body from your workouts. Be sure to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Don't skimp on this important area of training!
Prevention is the key
Running towards an injury doesn't have to be inevitable. By following these often overlooked tips, you can enjoy a long running streak injury free.