With Spring finally here it may be time to break out a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement! Maybe you're a first time runner or you hve your eyes on the Flying Pig.
Unfortunately one of the most common reasons to delay or derail a runner's training is an injury.
In this post I'll be outlining four science based ways you can reduce your risk of injury.
Before I jump into it I want to clarify something. "Injury Prevention" or "bulletproofing" a part of the body is very popular right now however there is NO proven way to prevent injuries at this time.
If we could truly “bulletproof” a region of the body no one would be injured.
Alternatively we can use injury risk reduction in our approach to running. Injury Risk Reduction takes into account the person, their activity, and goals.
For example one of the main predictors of a future injury is previous injury. This means that if your left knee has been bothersome in the past it's more likely to cause you pain. So then if your goal is to reduce your risk of injury over a traininig season that would be an easy place to start.
Here are 4 data supported ways to reduce your risk of injury as a runner
-Stop Static Stretching!
There’s often a tendency to start with “too much too fast” when running. 20 miles a week can spike to 30 to 50 week overweek. For runners load is measured in two ways: mileage or intensity. Large changes in either of these is associated with conditions such as tendonitis or bone stress injuries (stress fractures).
The solution? Start Gradually. Adding 10-15% increase week to week can reduce your risk.
Sleep is your body’s build in recovery time. During our resting hours the body regrows tissues and proteins, something you don’t want to short change. Van Rosen et al. found that among athletes sleeping the required 8 hours of sleep reduced the odds of injury by 61% compared to the other members of the study. So get your sleep!
Running myth: strength training should be high repetition low load to improve running performance.
Instead strength training (high weight low rep) has been shown to
-Improve running economy (efficiency)
-Increase time trial performance
-Increase maximal spring speed.
Additionally, improved lower body strength has been linked to more power (think a large hill mid race or a sprint to the finish).
STOP STATIC STRETCHING
We have all been told to stretch either before or after a run or workout. However recent research has changed how we should approach that. Simic et al in 2013 found that pre workout static stretching reduces performance and power output in runners.
Injuries are not guarnteed but there are certainly ways you can reduce them. The right mix of strength training and quality recover can go a long way to keep you on the road or trail.
Predicting future physical injury in sports: it's a complicated dynamic system
von Rosen P, Frohm A, Kottorp A, Fridén C, Heijne A. Too little sleep and an unhealthy diet could increase the risk of sustaining a new injury in adolescent elite athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017 Nov;27(11):1364-1371. doi: 10.1111/sms.12735. Epub 2016 Aug 19.
Simic L, Sarabon N, Markovic G. Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Mar;23(2):131-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2012.01444.x. Epub 2012 Feb 8. PMID: 22316148.
Cook C. Predicting future physical injury in sports: it's a complicated dynamic system. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Nov;50(22):1356-1357. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096445. Epub 2016 Jun 10. PMID: 27288514.