RunWalk Injury Prevention Tips
With the start to the RunWalk and Sun Run InTraining programs and many others making New Year’s resolutions to start a running program, here are a few reminders on how to make it to the starting line of your event - injury free - and able to perform to the best of your ability. SportMedBC’s Manager of Performance Dr. D'arcey Musselman gives us her tips:
1. Focus on Good Posture
Good posture involves proper body alignment for maximal function and efficiency. If the body is not in optimal position, the muscles and joints must work harder for each action. This inefficient movement costs more energy.
Running with good posture and proper biomechanics will minimize stress and strain on the muscles and joints, which helps improve performance and decreases the risk of injury.
2. Proper Footwear
It is essential that runners wear the appropriate footwear for running. The biomechanics of running is vastly different to other sports, such as basketball or tennis, and as a result requires the proper footwear to meet the demands of the sport. Running shoes are designed to protect your feet from the road, cushion the landing and support your feet. Running shoes have highly specialized built-in shoe features which allow you to run many miles day after day more comfortably and with less chance of sustaining injuries.
Since runners are unique in their foot biomechanics (how much they train, their running style), there is no perfect shoe. One of the best ways to ensure you are getting the proper running shoe is to visit a RunWalk specialty store. They can help fit you in the appropriate brand and model for your needs.
Stretching is an effective activity that helps enhance performance, decreases the likelihood of injury and minimizes muscle soreness. Stretching should be included as part of the training warm up and cool down with each having a different purpose. The purpose of stretching prior to exercise is to help prevent injury. This is done by lengthening the muscles and tendons which in turn, increases the range of motion. It also helps prepare the body and mind for more strenuous activity. Stretching after exercise is primarily to aid in the repair and recovery of the muscles and tendons.
As runners, tight muscles can contribute to poor dynamic posture and lead to inefficient running mechanics. Generally the body areas that require stretching attention include the calf, lower back, hip, groin, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and neck. These stretches do not need to take very long. To perform a stretch, get into the proper position and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. There should be no bouncing or forcing of the motion. Go as far as you can without feeling pain, hold and repeat.
4. Recovery Strategies
Running at any level of intensity depletes the body in many areas and requires a variety of recovery strategies in order to continue conditioning the body optimally. This is sports recovery - the conscious act to help the body return to its optimal exercise state. A few recovery strategies include cooling down, post-workout nutrition and rest.
Cool-down routines are important. These routines give the muscles a chance to keep the blood flowing through the body which helps reduce lactic acid buildup, allows the body temperature and heart rate to gradually return to normal and reduces the potential for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Post-workout nutrition involves replacing the resources that were used during running. These are primarily water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Rehydrating yourself after your run is the most important step you can take. If you neglect rehydrating, your recovery will be stalled significantly. Carbohydrates are your fuel and also vital to the recovery process. There is scientific evidence to suggest that the first hour after you exercise is the time that your body responds best to glycogen replenishment (i.e. carbohydrates). Electrolytes (sodium, potassium and calcium) are also necessary to replace before muscle recovery can occur.
Rest is an essential part of training and is just as important as working out. Rest is the key to preventing overtraining and the potential of injuries. Muscles break down with training and then rebuild to get stronger. This implies that damage to the muscle is the stimulus for change. So don’t feel guilty taking time out to rest, it is part of the training program!
5. Core Stability
The “core” is the term used to refer to the trunk or lumbopelvic region in the body. Muscular support in this region is critical to maintain the integrity of the spine and to support the body. When applied to running performance, strong lumbopelvic region will improve your form, reduce the likelihood of injuries and improve running performance.