Running is the most dangerous sport. That sounds like a ridiculous statement, but when you consider that 80% of runner are injured every year, it sounds more like an epidemic than a sport.
It doesn't need to be that way, though. Human beings are built to run, but our modern lifestyle has set us up for failure. Between our high-heeled shoes, commuter lifestyle and sub-par nutrition, it is hard to handle any sort of running volume without complications.
Here are my top 5 tips for runners to remain injury free.
1. Shorten your Stride
Many runners tend to over-stride, which is much harder on the body. By shortening your stride and keeping your feet underneath you, you end up running smoother and almost "floating" from stride to stride.
2. Don't use running to warm up for your run.
Use running drills, body weight movements, dynamic stretching, and mobilizations to prepare for your run. You should be sweaty and warm before you start running.
Here is a warm-up that you can experiment with to suit your needs:
Repeat the below sequence of exercises for 2 sets before starting your run. The warm-up should take 10-15 minutes.
3. Perform resistance training regularly
The old-school philosophy is that the only way to get better at running is to run more.... and more... and then more... until, more often than not, you get injured and you can't run anymore. In reality, you will benefit more from two 30-minute strength sessions per week in place of additional runs. Resistance training will help you build muscular endurance and joint resilience.
This applies both to competitive runners and recreational runners. Everyone will benefit from getting stronger.
4. Strengthen your core
I could write a whole post on this topic alone (or probably a whole book). You are only as efficient as your core. It is your base. In order to run efficiently, you need to engage your core/trunk. My favorite exercises to strengthen your core for running are the Hollow Body Hold and the Hollow Body Rock.
Note: avoid training the Hollow Body on the days that you run, or at least before you start running. Train it, instead, on alternate days or after you finish your run.
5. Treat Running as a skill
The most important aspect of running without injury is to focus on your running technique above all else. Treat it as a skill.
Treating it as a skill means that as soon as your technique breaks down, your run is over. Whether this means you are on kilometer 1 or 25, don't run through back technique. THAT is a recipe for injury.
Everyone is a runner. We're built to locomote, and run for long distances, but our modern lifestyle is less than conducive to it. Follow these tips and your mileage will go up, without increasing your injury rate.
If you want to take your performance to the next level, and your training into your own hands, you need these two books:
- Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett and T.J. Murphy
- Unbreakable Runner by Brian MacKenzie and T.J. Murphy
B.Kin, Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology CPT
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