by Matt Dravitzki and Ed Massey
Avoiding injuries is a combination of good luck and good management. Not much you can do about the luck, but we can help with the management through sensible prevention measures. What are some simple steps we can take to reduce injury risk?
- Set an annual training schedule: based around a few races. Include some down time where you cut back on training and even take some time off.
- Good hydration: dehydrated muscles are prone to getting injured. Drink regularly during and after runs especially when it’s hot. After key days have some sports drink and replace water, sugars, sodium and potassium.
- Wear good shoes: shoes are just about a runner’s only significant expense. So get along to a sports shoe store, get advice on the right shoes and stick with them.
- Mixed surfaces: variety of surfaces is good for the body– road, grass, trails. Softer surfaces are easier on your legs and aid recovery.
- Warm up well: do at least 10-15 minutes of easy running and a couple of strides before you start your sessions.
- Quality stretching: learn to stretch well especially after runs. Running is a repetitive sport that strengthens but shorten muscles. Focus on gradual sustained stretches (30 seconds +).
- Massage: regular massage is well worth the investment. It will help to “iron out” small problems areas of tightness that build up.
- Recovery runs: make sure your recovery runs are just that.
- Rest: schedule in some rest days. Muscles get stronger when we rest up after training sessions not during the training itself.
- Cold water/Ice: both have great anti- inflammation effects. After hard runs get cold water on your legs for a few minutes (the hose, shower etc.) and ice problem areas immediately after your runs.
- Listen to your body: how your body responds to different sessions is a good indicator of how you are feeling. If little niggles keep cropping up during ‘effort’ sessions consider backing-off for a week.
- Cross training: consider adding a cross training session (swimming/cycling) in place of a recovery run. Cross training can “refresh” and works different muscles.
- Strength work: under rated by many runners – strength work (gym or at home) can protect your body and improve performance.
WHEN INJURY OCCURS
Despite our best efforts injury does happen, so if you get injured here are a few tips:
- Seek treatment promptly: a good diagnosis from a professional is crucial. Seek a second opinion if not satisfied. ACC may cover the costs.
- Physiotherapy: can be dull – persevere! it will be worth it in the end.
- Be cruel to be kind: stop running if advised!
- If possible do alternative training: to keep up fitness, such as low impact cycling or aqua-jogging.
- Don’t rush back from injury: Some injuries take a few weeks to get right – others many months. Return to running gradually starting with a slow stroll round the bays.