▶️ 5 Reasons why runners get injured
1. Too Much Too Soon Too Fast:
Hreliac (2004) studied 'impact and overuse injuries in runners' and concluded that "inapporpriate training volume is the key factor associated with 60%-70% of running related injuries"
Progressing the mileage too rapidly means you add volume before your body is ready for it. This is also true of increasing intensity too rapidly.
Increase volume OR intensity gradually, not both at the same time. The 10% rule is a good guide to increase your weekly mileage or longest run
2. Not Warming Up Adequately:
Particularly when doing high intensity activities, prepare your body for what you are asking it to do. The golden rule is to activate the muslces, mobilise the joints, and building intensity gradually raising your heart rate.
The higher the intensity of the workout or run the longer the warm up needs to be.
4. Poor Nutrition:
Just like a high performance car, you won't get the best out of your body if you don't fuel it right. That New Years resolution to lose weight and train for a marathon leaves you without the fuel to train, and more importantly without the nutrients your body needs for a full and adequate recovery from those long training runs.
Low energy uptake = low energy availability.
3. Not Including Sufficient Recovery:
This includes sleep, less than 7 hours sleep has been shown to increase the risk of injury by 71%. Add recovery days and if marathon training include a recovery week every 4 weeks.
A recovery day is not a lazy day, recovery should be included as part of the training plan, it's when the adaptaion to training can take place
5. Form & Technique:
This can create additional loading and stresses which over time will cause more overuse injuries. There is no magic formula to guarantee staying injury free, however, you can reduce the load and stress with better form and technique, giving you a better chance of staying free of injuries
▶️ Top Tips
1. Do your strength training
Strength training improves performace, increases the tissue tolerance to deal with the loads placed upon them by running without changing body composition, you won't get big!
This is particulalrly important for those who have an injury history, those exercises you did to get over the injury? don't stop just because you're now fit again, they will still help.
Make the strength training specific, big biceps don't help you run faster or for longer!
2. Include high intensity running sessions
Suggested sessions should include:
Hills - repetitions of hill sprints
Speed work - sprints of 60m to 200m
Speed endurance - 400m, 800m, 1k, or mile reps.
Include 1 or 2 of these type of sessions per week depending on what you're training for and where you are in your training plan
3. Have a training plan
Plan your training - this helps to build up at the right rate rowards your goal race. It also helps to focus you running towards a specific goal. It will stop you trying to nail that parkrun PB in the middle of marathon training!
Plan your recovery - Ensure you have sufficient recovery in your planning and look at your lifestyle factors to see if they help or hinder your running
4. Include recovery in your training
In your training plan make sure to include recovery days and weeks.
Have a recovery day every week, and a recovery week every 4th or 5th week.
Reducing your weekly mileage and the longest run every 4th or 5th week will reduce the build up of fatigue.
5. Vary your running
Change the route - don't always run the same route the same way round, this will change up the loads that will build on the same side if you always run a route turning left for example.
Change up the terrain - get off road too, this makes you stronger, plus running on softer ground reduces the stresses that will build if you always run on tarmac.
Change up your running - Include hills, add speed or speed endurance sessions, tempo runs and an easy run
▶️ Warming Up
Simply to prepare you body & mind for the activity you're about to do. The point of which is to get our joints Mobilised, Activate the muscles and Raise our heart rate in Preparation for running, RAMP!
A warm up doesn't take long, but can improve the quality of your run or training session, a good rule of thumb to rememebr is that the higher the intentisyt of the run or session the longer the warm up needs to be. A 100m sprinter will warm up for longer than a marathon runner due to the intensity.
2. Warming up before a run
Some basic mobility work to get the joints mobilised, some muscle activation and dynamic stretching.
Gradually increase the intensity to get the heart rate up, which will in turn pump more oxygen to the muscles.
Walking High Knee Pull
Leg Swings (front to back)
Leg Swings (side to side)
3. Add drills to a warm up
These drills will help with your running form and technique, always consider why you're doing these.
Grapevine (Carioca or over-unders)
Straight Leg Run
See the videos for how to perform these drills.
4. Warm up for higher intensity training sessions
Start as for the pre-run warm-up. Consider the following
1. The higher the intensity of the sesison the longer the warm-up needs to be
2. Add drills after the warm-up, focus on the technique.
3. Build the intensity through the warm up so that you're almost at the session inte sity at the end of your warm-up
5. Warming up for a gym session
Include whole body mobility work, start at the top and work down, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. activate all the muscle groups with dynamic work. include the following
It is also a time to work on improving range of movement around a joint with limited range. it's good to do this before you start gym work as you will have better chance to perform the exercise correctly, which gets the best out of the exercise and also doesn't badly load muscles and joints that should not be involved in that exercise.
▶️ Stretching Yes or No?
1. Stretch before a run?
Static stretching before a run is a definite NO. it has been proven to have negative consequences on performance as the muscles are lengthened and any additional benefit from the stretch shortening cycle are then lost. it can also cause injuries.
Dynamic stretching is encouraged however, by moving your joints through their full range of movement dynamically the muslces are going throuth the act of stretching and shortening as they will when you run. This also encourages blood flow and the transport of oxygen to the muscles.
2. Should you stretch after a run?
This should be carefully considered. Why do you want to stretch after a run. If you are feeling tight at the end of a run then stretching that muscle may not be the best thing to do. Walking it off would help more as this will allow the muscle to go back to it's relaxed state more gently.
It has been suggested that post run stretching benefits only last about 30 minutes, so it doesn't appear to have any lasting benefit.
3. Does stretching help prevent injuries?
There is no evidence to suggest that stretching helps prevent injuries
4. Does stretching improve performance?
No evidence of stretching to improve performance either
5. To stretch or not to stretch?
There are few benefits to stretching, however, it's one of those areas where if it makes you feel good and you've always done it then fine, carry on. There are better ways to spend 30 minutes a day though, such as strength training.
If you have a reduced range of motion around a joint, such as your ankle or hips then stretching is worhtwile in order to improve that joint range.
Having long stretchy muscles might feel good, but that flexibility needs strength for control. Therefore, add strength training so that the flexibility is controllable. Consider whether being able to touch your toes when running is neccessary?!
For performance, being a stiff spring is better than being a slinky.
▶️ Life Style factors That Contribute to Injury In Runners
Evaluate your casual shoes for rigid, high-heeled, constrictive models that could be contributing to foot and lower leg weaknesses. I won’t ask you to buy a new closet of shoes, but:
✯Be kind to your feet when you’re at work.
Wear high-heeled or constrictive shoes for one less workday per week
Never wear shoes in your home
Opt for more flexible, lower-profile shoes when you’re at more casual events
The next time you need new shoes, buy a lower-profile, more flexible option
These immediate results from a day of sitting make you ill-equipped to handle an afternoon or evening run.
✯For one day be aware of how many hours you spend sitting down. The next day try to reduce this by 1-3 hours
reduces the flexibility of the hip flexors and hamstrings
creates a forward tilt of the pelvis
reduces blood flow to the legs, hampering the recovery process
weakens the glutes and hip muscles, reducing the stability of the pelvis while running
Are you sleeping enough?
You have to get enough sleep, especially during periods of higher mileage training or when your workouts are more intense than usual.
During the sleep cycle, your body repairs itself, adapts to the running you’ve been doing, and rejuvenates its muscles for your next workout.
In fact, running really just breaks you down! Sleep is when you absorb the training, get faster, and heal properly.
Eat Right to Feel Right
Put a focus on real food like fresh vegetables, fruit, high-quality meat, fish, nuts, and whole grains (don’t go crazy with whole grains, though)
There’s no hard evidence that suggests injured runners can heal faster with any type of supplements.
If you live in the modern world and eat a balanced diet, you’re most likely not deficient in any nutrients.
▶️ Six Principles to Staying Healthy
Patience is critical; modest increases in training over a long period of time help you stay healthy and ultimately reach your goals. There are no shortcuts.
Be realistic about what your body can accomplish in the near future
Be consistent with your strength work every day
Always doing a warm-up
and running consistently without wild swings in mileage.
Know your baseline mileage. This is the level that you’re comfortable at but not struggling with. Every runner has a "baseline mileage" that they're comfortable running but it's different for each person. Look over the last 4-6 months of your training. What's your "mileage baseline" where you feel comfortable? This is your starting point. Most of your training cycles should start slightly under your baseline mileage. Then add about 5-10% more mileage every other week.
Use “Adaptation Weeks.” You should repeat a week of mileage, long runs, and workouts for most weeks in your training plan. This allows your body to absorb the training, get stronger, and adapt to the higher workload. It also helps limits your risk of injury. After a tough workout, you experience a certain level of fatigue and muscle damage. You’re actually in worse shape after the workout! But when you rest and allow yourself to recover from that workout, you adapt to it, supercompensate, and get stronger. An Adaptation Week allows this recovery.
When in Doubt, Sit it Out. If you’re not sure whether a workout is too difficult, a race is too soon from your last one, or a particular long run increase is too aggressive, then it probably is! Every change to your training is a new stress: an extra interval at the track, mile on your long run, or 5% bump in weekly mileage. If you’re increasing all of these things, be cautious and reduce any workout where you feel you’re pushing yourself too far or fast. There are no "magic workouts" or “perfect mileage levels” that will bring glory and PR's if you run “X” number of intervals or miles per week. Increase your volume gradually and be more cautious when you're above your mileage baseline. Also be careful when you’re increasing more than one training stress.
Doing the same workouts month after month (and often year after year). It’s no wonder so many runners are stuck in a rut or always dealing with chronic injuries. See, they’re called repetitive stress injuries for a reason: they’re caused by repeating the same stress over and over again. We can’t change the fact that as runners, we’re going to be running over and over again most days of the week. But variety in how we train is crucial.
The real variety comes in the details:
Terrain - hilly, flat, uneven trail, cinder path, dirt road, snow, asphalt, grass, etc.
Running many different paces every week from very easy jogging to sprinting
Including a wide variety of flexibility and strength exercises
Rotating several different types of shoes (and maybe doing some barefoot work)
A post-run routine ensures you’re optimising your recovery from a fuelling, nutrition, strength, and dynamic flexibility perspective.
After every run - particularly a difficult workout - follow a standardised protocol for boosting recovery:
But something can still go wrong. You can still push too hard and find yourself too sore, in actual pain, or injured.
REST (i.e., not running): This reduces the stress your legs experience and lets tissues repair themselves without additional damage occurring. Some runners may need just a day or two off from running to reduce soreness enough to be able to run. Others who have a minor injury may need more time.
One of the most difficult questions to answer is, “When can I start running again?” Here are three rules to follow:
Within 10 minutes of the end of your run, refuel with simple carbohydrates and a source of protein. A glass of chocolate milk works great. A peanut butter sandwich is another option.
Within a half hour, rehydrate with 12-32 ounces of water depending on how much fluid you’ve lost.
As soon as possible after the run, complete your post-run strength routine.
Within an hour, eat a full, balanced meal that includes complex carbohydrates, a good source of protein, and 1-3 servings of vegetables.
Extra Credit: take a 90 minute nap later in the day to jumpstart the muscle regeneration process.
Before bed, 5-10 minutes of light foam rolling will help you loosen up and feel better in the morning.
You must have a zero-tolerance policy for pain. Never run through sharp, stabbing, intense pain - that means you’re doing more damage.
If you need to alter your running stride - or in other words, limp - then you shouldn’t be running. You need normal range of motion.
You can usually run through dull or achy pain that feels more like soreness, tightness, or stiffness.
If neither #1 nor #2 is true (you can run within your normal range of motion with no sharp pain) then you can run.
ICE: There's actually conflicting evidence that icing actually works to reduce muscle soreness, but most runners believe it does. In fact, some of its efficacy might be the placebo effect. Regardless, I'm a believer in its ability to reduce inflammation and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). One way that ice can help treat an injury is that it helps clear the injured area of waste products and speeds the recovery process. But icing every day will reduce your body's ability to fight inflammation naturally. After all, a little bit of soreness is a good thing! It activates the adaptation process and forces us to get stronger, faster, and more resilient. So use ice strategically - only when you need to, when you think you pushed too hard during a speed workout, or when your long run was a little too long. When you’re nursing an injury, it’s best to ice aggressively: 2-3 times per day with at least 20 minutes in between each icing session is ideal.
COMPRESSION is another way to speed the recovery process. Most runners use compression socks to get the desired compression for their feet and lower legs. Compression is most useful during the treatment phase of an injury or after a difficult workout. When you do a long run or a fast workout on the track, you do a lot of damage to your muscles. Wearing compression socks can help you recover by increasing blood flow in your lower legs when you’re sitting around after that workout. Compression socks improve blood flow while at rest (like when you’re sitting down at work after a morning workout), which will help move byproducts from exercise from your lower legs. If you need extra recovery, I’ve found that sleeping in the compression socks helps as well
ELEVATION is the final strategy during this window of acute, Red Alert recovery. It’s another way to control swelling (like ice) and is best implemented when the injured or sore area is elevated above the heart. This strategy prevents blood to pool around the affected tissue. When a normal position is resumed and elevation is stopped, fresh blood rushes to the area. This is very similar to contrast baths where you alternate cold and hot water to promote blood flow.
#1 and #2 indicate that there’s a problem. Pain is your brain’s way of telling you that you’re doing additional damage to your muscles and connective tissues - never run through it.
Form & Technique
This is not all about whether you're a fore-foot, or mid-foot or heel striker when running. Indeed changing from a heel strike to a forefoot strike when you don’t suffer from injuries is not necessary, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’
However, if you do suffer from injuries then consider the following:
INCREASE YOUR CADENCE. Prevent over-striding by increasing your step-rate (the number of steps you take per minute - or your cadence) by 5-10% from your baseline step rate. This usually solves most cases of over-striding. The majority of poor form habits are solved with this one tweak to your stride. Don’t over-complicate things - increase your cadence to at least 170. Studies have shown this simple tweak reduces load on tissues
AVOID AGGRESSIVE HEEL STRIKING. landing with heel ahead of yourself, legs straight with no knee flexion and toes pointing toward the sky (dorsiflexed) when your foot contacts the ground. This is bad news! The good news is that improving your cadence will dramatically reduce aggressive heel striking.
LAND WITH FEET UNDER YOUR HIPS. Your foot should strike the ground under your centre of mass, that’s to say as close to beneath you as possible. Try to have feet, hips & head all aligned.
ARM SWING. Possibly the hardest thing for a runner to change, But essentially try to avoid the arms crossing the midline when swinging, Elbows bent at 90° and all the arm swing happens at the shoulder not the elbow, drive your elbow back not your fists. cup your hands and keep them loose not tight, think about it as carrying a crips between your finger & thumb.
RUN TALL. Tall back, high hips is the way to think about this. Pretend you have a helium balloon attached to your head pulling you nice and upright. Minimise forward lean from the hips.
RELAX. You can’t run smoothly, comfortably, or fast if you’re tense. Even if you’re doing a fast workout or are late in the stages of a long run experiencing massive amounts of fatigue, stay relaxed. You might have seen elite runners who look relaxed and comfortable sprinting toward the finish at a marathon. Believe me, they’re not comfortable but they’re actively working on staying as relaxed as possible. They’re holding no tension in their upper body, face, or legs. They’re relaxed.
SPREAD YOUR KNEES. While running, pretend there’s a golf ball between your knees that forces them a few centimetres further away from one another. This simple action reduces the abnormal rotation of the thigh that causes many injuries and is common among injury-prone runners.
If you choose to make any changes to your running form (and remember, if you’re not chronically injured, there’s no reason to fix something that isn’t broken), always make those changes gradually over a few weeks.
Start with one update and cautiously test it before making another change.
Consider a Gait Analysis.
There is no evidence to suggest that static stretching is good to do before a run, indeed it could actually be bad for you as you then run with stretched muscles. As a muscles job is to contract asking it to do this repeatedly from a stretched state reduces its efficiency, and you lose all the elastic recoil, ‘the stretch shortening cycle’
Always do a dynamic warm warm up before a run, this:
The warm up should include mobilisation and activation of the joints and muscles and also increasing the heart rate to get oxygen flowing to the muscles and warming them gradually.
Improves circulation and blood flow to your legs
Opens capillaries in extremities like the feet
Warms the muscles (what a “warm-up” is supposed to do anyway!)
Improves range of motion
Prepares the body for faster running
Allows you to run more economically (i.e., efficiently)
Increases coordination, strength, and prevents injuries
Strength & Conditioning
Running specific strength training.
Most of the best exercises for runners require only your body weight and no equipment.
Injury prevention - Whilst the evidence for strength training to reduce injury risk is not really there, this is mainly due to the poor quality of the research in this area. most research studies are conducted over too short a time span to be of real value in this area. Logic does suggest that by being strigner your muscles and other connective tissues will be better able to withstand the repetitiveloads that running places upon them
Improve speed - There is strong evidence however, for strength training to improve running economy and to make you faster.
However, your strength training needs to be specific in order to help your running
Soon after starting a consistent strength program, you'll reduce your chance of injury, improve your running efficiency, and strengthen your entire body - creating a more powerful stride and ultimately running faster.
Runners need runner-specific strength work that focuses on the specific imbalances and weaknesses that are most common to us.
If you're going to the gym, 1-2 sessions per week is beneficial for most runners. A good rule of thumb is that you want more gym sessions in the earlier, base phase of training. But when your volume and intensity builds, you may need to prioritise your key running workouts.
If you don’t use the gym then do a strength workout after a run, keep to the rule of an easy workout after an easy run and a hard workout after a hard run, so the easy days stay easy and the hard days stay hard.