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How To Avoid Running Injuries

Introduction to How To Avoid Running Injuries

he majority of running injuries occur from over training. Avoid doing too much too soon. Your progress in mileage and speed should be a gradual one. An unrelenting increase in mileage from one week to the next will ultimately result in a break down. It is important to keep in mind the principle of hard days and easy days being interspersed and also hard and easy weeks. Mileage should usually only be increased approximately 10 per cent per week. Every third week, you should drop back a small amount.

For most runners one or two days a week, at least, should be devoted to rest or non-running activities. This gives your body a chance to recover and strengthen itself. It is helpful to maintain a running diary. This should contain your mileage, course and brief note on how you felt. It may help trace the origin of problems related to over training.

You should always ease into speed work. One way to ease into speed work would be by throwing in a few short distance surges into your normal runs. Some coaches have also recommended gentle hill work, prior to speed work. Track work runs should occur after you have accomplished some faster paced running during the course of your routine runs and should not be overly ambitious at first.

Running shoes should regularly be replaced. Shock absorbing capability will diminish gradually and may be inadequate after 350 to 550 miles. The upper of the shoe may not show much wear, but the shock absorption may still be gone. If you are running 20 miles per week, you should be replacing your shoes between 4 and 8 months depending upon your shock absorption needs. It is always cheaper to replace your shoes than to make a visit to the Chiropodist surgery.

Regular stretching may also help reduce injuries. Runners frequently develop tightness in muscle groups. This includes the hamstrings and the calf muscles. The quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the upper leg) and the shin muscles may become relatively weak, due to muscular imbalance. The abdominal muscles also tend to be weak on runners who do not exercise them.

The calf (achilles) should be gently stretched and so should the hamstrings. The best stretch for the calf muscles is the "wall stretch". I recommend stretching one set of leg muscles at a time. One leg is back, knee straight, the other leg is forward with the knee bent. The leg that is back is being stretched. Ten repetitions holding for 10 seconds each is ideal. There are several different stretches to choose from for the hamstrings: Forward bends with the knees slightly bent, knee to chest or leaning forward with the leg out straight in front of you all work. It is important to not aggravate your back while performing hamstring stretches.

Dr Foots recommended stretching exercises.

Wall push-up: This is basically the calf stretch described above. My version stretches one leg at a time. Stand with the rear foot approximately two to three feet from the wall. The rear leg should be straight, the front leg is bent and your hands touch the wall. Feet point straight ahead, heels are on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, switch legs, repeat 10 times.

Hamstring Stretch: Straighten one leg, place it, with the knee locked, on a footstool. Bend your body and bring your head towards the leg. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Switch sides, repeat 10 times.

Knee Clasp: Lie on a firm surface. A carpeted floor or grass is best. Bring both knees to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times. This stretches the hamstrings and lower back.

Chest push-up: Lie on the floor with your abdomen pressed flat on to the floor. Place your hands flat on the floor, beneath your shoulders. Push your chest up with your arms and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

Backward Stretch: While standing straight, place the palms of your hands against the small of your back. Tighten your buttocks and bend backwards. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times.

Shin Splinter: This is performed to strengthen the shins. Sit on a table with your legs dangling over the side. Place a 3 to 5 pound weight over your toes. Flex your foot at the ankle (bend it up). Hold for 6 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Straight Leg Lifts: This is performed to strengthen the quadriceps. Lying on the floor. Flex one knee to approximately a right angle. Lift the other leg rapidly to between 30 and 60 degrees. Lower and repeat 10 times. Switch legs, repeat 5 times and work up to 10 sets of 10 repetitions.

Bent Leg sit-up: This strengthens the abdominal muscles. Dr Foot recommends that the sit up be a gradual one rather than a rapid thrust forward. It should feel as if you are moving forward one vertebra at a time. Lie on the floor with your knee's bend. Come forward to a position 30 degrees from the floor. Lie back and then repeat 20 times.

Since almost no runner will perform 8 exercises, we have selected 4 of the above exercises that really should be done.

The essential four

Wall push-up: This stretches the achilles and calf muscles one leg at a time. Stand with the rear foot approximately two to three feet from the wall. The rear leg should be straight, the front leg is bent and your hands touch the wall. Feet point straight ahead, heels are on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, switch legs, repeat 10 times.

Hamstring Stretch: Straighten one leg, place it, with the knee locked, on a footstool. Bend your body and bring your head towards the leg. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Switch sides, repeat 10 times.

Knee Clasp: Lie on a firm surface. A carpeted floor or grass is best. Bring both knees to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times. This stretches the hamstrings and lower back.

Bent Leg sit-up: This strengthens the abdominal muscles. It is recommended that the sit up be a gradual one rather than a rapid thrust forward. It should feel as if you are moving forward one vertebra at a time. Lie on the floor with your knee's bend. Come forward to a position 30 degrees from the floor. Lie back and then repeat 20 times.

 

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