Avoiding a Long-Term Injury
There comes a time in everyone’s running when something doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. With no apparent reason, you can barely walk, let alone run! Your world is crashing down around you. You’re irritable, annoyed and frustrated! Why me?
Below, TrainwithMarc will outline some general reasons why you might get injured. Then, we’ll dive into what you can do to not let that injury last longer than it should. More often than not, a running injury lingers much longer than it should because runners are impatient and we “test” the injured area to see if it’s healed or not, and usually, it’s not.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why you might be injured:
An imbalance is when one part of your body is stronger (or weaker) than it’s counterpart. For example, your left hamstring is stronger than the left quad. This imbalance most likely pulls on your hip and throws everything off kilter. The hamstring (being stronger) might not work as hard as the quad and so not only will you have an overly-tired quad, but a weak quad lead to knee and hip issues.
Being in the right type of running shoe is critical for staying healthy. Running shoes are really the only piece of equipment that you really need. I swear by the Haddonfield Running Company to put me in the right shoe for my running needs. Find your local running store and let them see you.
I hear runners all the time asking for shoe advice and it’s really important that they go to a specialty store and try on a shoe that works for their specific foot type. All brands (Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony, Hoka, etc) have a shoe that is made for your foot, you just have to try on the various brands and find a feel that fits you. You don’t get that customer service at a big box store.
Too Much, Too Soon
You have great intentions, but your execution is poor. New to running? Go super slow and really short. I know! It feels like you’re not even breaking a sweat. Trust us, it’s for the best. The easier and slower you go, the less sore you’ll be and the more likely you’ll be able to repeat your effort. It sounds silly to run for a short period of time knowing you have a race on the horizon, but going slow and steady will get you to where you want to go.
If you have an injury, you really want it gone. The longer that bad boy sticks around, the worse you feel about yourself and the less you feel like a real runner.
Here’s what to do to keep this stint on the injury list as short as possible:
I know – nobody wants to take time off if they don’t have to. Trust us, we know how much it kills us to rest, but it’s the smartest way to return to action. No “testing it out” to see if it healed. When you feel ready to return, take another day or two off, then go out and run easy.
Rest might also be cross training. Sometimes just a day off from running, but still doing something (biking, elliptical, or swimming) may keep the injury from becoming something bigger.
Get used to wearing compression. Calf sleeves, CWX clothing, and similar brands are superb for runners and a life saver.
Stretch the muscles while they’re warm and get as limber as you can. A good stretch and a possible yoga session will help you feel like you’ve worked out and built up a sweat. Plus both are really good for runners.
Here’s the warm-up routine I use that has gotten me ready for all of my races and workouts.
See a Doctor
This should almost be the first thing you do. I have a whole army of doctors (active release, chiros, podiatrists, etc) who keep myself and my runner-wife in one piece. They are all runner-centric and are a phone call away. These guys have saved me many times. Ask around for who’s the best at dealing with runners and entrust them with getting healthy.
Replace your Shoes
As I said above, good shoes go a really long way. They’re the most important piece of equipment for a runner. Get yours from a specialty store. Don’t shop for shoe color, instead, try on a few and see which pair feels right on your feet. Asking what brand is “good” isn’t going to get you in the right pair as everyone has their own biases toward running shoes.
Minimize All Potential Injuries
We know there’s no real way to prevent injuries. They are, unfortunately, part of the sport. Since we can’t completely avoid them, we have to do all we can to minimize their occurrences. There are things we can do (and things we shouldn’t, see above) to minimize the potential injuries from occurring. Let’s have a look at some of them!
- Strength training. The best way to stay balanced and have muscles and tendons that can support your running is by doing strength training. You don’t have to be a gym rat either. Planks, pushups, squats, and calf raises are great examples of at-home exercises you can do. There are great bodyweight routines you can follow too!
- Hire a running coach. A coach can get you healthy if you’re injured and develop a plan to get you back to your running ways. If you’re injury-prone, a coach who is well-versed in injury prevention will be a key component to your running program.
- Know your own body. Know what works for you and ask that your coach creates a plan that has your needs in mind.
- Be smart with your training. Ease into any run you do and build momentum as you go along. The same can be said about a training program you start. Begin at an easy pace and as you feel more confident, you can pick up steam.
Injuries suck. These stories will help you get over your injury quicker.
- Injury prevention for distance runners
- Get your strength training done
- Exercises for ankle strength & preventing injuries
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I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!