Top 10 Tips on Managing Running Injuries

Here is a little general advice…so here goes…in no particular order

1. TRAIN SMART AND INCLUDE REST

Learning when to rest is a key part of running, especially when training for an event. Sometimes it’s harder to rest than to run but it’s essential for your body to repair. A lot of conditions, especially tendon problems, require around 24 hours post run to strengthen the tissue. The body is in a constant balance of tissue breakdown and tissue strengthening, if you run without allowing adequate rest it tips this balance towards breakdown. Add new workouts gradually, especially hills and speed work where the risk of injury is higher.

2. FIND THE CAUSE OF YOUR INJURY

Most websites are excellent at helping you settle symptoms and giving you generic advice on rehab. Our idea at Urban Athlete is to help you identify the cause and deal with it appropriately. This helps to stop problems returning again and again. Best way to do this is book in for a muscle balance assessment where we put you through your paces, take baseline measurements and prescribe you an individualised program to address any areas of weakness, tightness and imbalance.

3. SETTLE THE SYMPTOMS

The old acronym of RICE often proves useful here. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Once symptoms are settled and you’ve identified the cause of your problem then you can start rehabbing it.

4. STRENGTHEN

The most effective way of strengthening is to identify specific weaknesses and work on them- this is where a muscle balance assessment can be extremely helpful. Common areas are calf, glutes and quads. Strong muscles will absorb impact more effectively and help improve running economy. After injury it’s important to strengthen weak areas before returning to running. A classic with this is a calf tear which without correct rehabilitation can develop into a “recurrent calf tear”.  (see below for our two key strengthening exercises).

5. STABILITY

Control and stability of movement is very important for runners. If you have poor control then you are likely to have excessive movement during the impact part of running. This can place a lot of stress on certain structures (like the ITB, Achilles tendon etc.) and lead to inflammation and pain.

6. STRETCH

Runners often complain of muscle tightness or joint stiffness. We tend to use generic stretches but it’s best to identify specific tight areas and work on those. Common problem muscles include calf, quads, hip flexors, ITB and hamstrings.

7. MODIFY

In many situations you may be able to run pain free by modifying your running. This is a short term strategy but can be very effective in helping something settle. It can simply be reducing distance or speed, or avoiding hills or interval training. It might be decreasing your stride length, regularly changing your running surface or starting slower and building up. Changing footwear, trying taping or a gel heel insert can all be ways of modifying your running to keep it pain free.

8. PLAN A GRADUAL RETURN TO RUNNING

So many people expect a rapid return to where they left off as soon as symptoms have settled. Unfortunately the body needs time to adapt to running again and any long break from running requires a gradual return.

9. FOOTWEAR

Having appropriate footwear is an important part of your running. Old, worn out shoes will offer little support and it’s recommended you change your running shoes after approx. 600-800 Km. Choose the right shoe for your foot shape, generally this means a stability or motion control shoe for over pronators and a well cushioned shoe for people with high arches. If you are unsure about what footwear is best then arranging gait analysis can be very helpful or take advice from a podiatrist who can make custom built insoles.

10. ASK FOR HELP

Runners often seem reluctant to ask for help from their GP, Physio or Health Professional. There are several reasons for this, one is they worry they will be told not to run, the other is that some health professionals seem to know very little about running or have a very negative attitude towards it. That said sometimes you need help, injury management isn’t simple and can’t all be managed through advice online.

TWO KEY STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

CALF RAISE OFF A STEP

  • Stand on edge of step
  • Raise up on toes with non-injured leg
  • Slowly lower your heel over the edge of step (3 secs) on the injured leg- aim to build up to 3 sets of 15 repetitions
  • Use your non-injured leg to raise you up onto your toes again

DOUBLE LEG BRIDGE

  • Lying with knees bent and arms at sides
  • Draw belly button in towards spine and initiate lower abdominals
  • Breath in and raise hips off the floor curling the spine up until knee hip and shoulder are in a straight line- hold for 5 seconds
  • Exhale and return to start position- perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Here at Urban Athlete we are runners ourselves and understand running injuries- so if you need any help or are interested in a muscle balance assessment just drop us a line info@urbanathlete.co.nz or give us a call on 3567276 and we’ll get you back on track asap!

www.urbanathlete.co.nz