Tips to avoid running injuries are really simple! But when you don't know them... it's very easy to get caught! As I explained in my last article, avoiding running injuries is a really complex subject. Running is one of the most traumatic sports for the body. I'm not going to go back on that, if you want to understand why we get hurt running, check it out here.
In this article, I would like to give you some concrete advice with 8 tips to avoid injuries. Basic rules that may seem simplistic to you, but if we respect them all, we greatly reduce the risk of injury. It's tested and approved, I don't hurt myself anymore since I apply them!
I give you the list of the 10 tips, you can click on the ones that interest you the most... or simply consult them one by one by one by continuing to go down in the article!
Slowly increase your mileage
Listen to your body to the maximum
Be careful with the intensity
Do not rush the warm-up
Be an actor in its recovery
Vary the terrain as much as possible
Be proactive by working on your weaknesses
Keep in mind that avoiding injuries is about progress
1- Slowly increase your mileage!
It's the base of the base! In fact, our body is perfectly capable of absorbing the shocks of each stride... but it has a limit! Training will gradually increase this limit. But when I say little by little, it's really little by little! Patience is the main quality of the runner who wants to progress! The most patient are always the ones who are best rewarded! There's no point in running, you have to start on time as they say!
Going gradually, without rushing your body, means progressing less quickly but it is also avoiding injuries and therefore progressing more in the long term! If I take a few examples:
You don't run as much as you did before you stopped in the first week: you have to take 3 to 4 weeks where you gradually increase the duration and number of your outings.
You don't go from 2 to 4 training sessions a week all at once either! If you want to increase the number of training sessions per week, you do it very slowly, as I have already explained, and above all, you listen to your body, you don't rush it!
We don't decide to make a 1h30 outing when we rarely do more than 45'! Long outings are very beneficial to progress but they can also be very destructive. Increasing by 10' per week its long output is a maximum
In short, you have understood it, priority to a slow progression when you want to avoid injuries! In the long term, it is the most effective strategy for progress in any case!
2- Listen to your body as much as possible
Persistent pain or abnormally high fatigue should never be taken lightly! These are signals that our bodies send us and it is important to interpret them correctly. We can see this as warnings that are supposed to make us react to avoid injuries... A great fatigue can occur at the end of a training block, when the machine is pushed.
In a well-designed training, it can be voluntary. But this fatigue must occur in the last moments before the week of recovery of your plan, not 10 days before the end of the cycle! If this happens before then, it is a sign that the training is too ambitious and exceeds your abilities (or that something else, outside of sport, brings this extra fatigue, you also have to take into account general fatigue, it can lead to injuries) When there is persistent pain, consulting a physio / physiotherapist should be the mandatory step to ensure you address the cause of this pain. But I will come back to that.
In any case, taking a few days off or by doing cross-training (imperatively a sport worn like cycling or swimming for example!) will do you more good than wanting to train at all costs by hiding the problem! And did you know that you have a margin of about 5 days without training where you don't lose any of your form? 5 days is often enough time to regain your health (when you haven't waited too long and you've already been over the limit...) so enjoy it!
READ >> Everything you need to know about recovery!
3- Be careful with the intensity!
Running more than your body can handle generates injuries, as we have seen in detail here. But it's not just a question of quantity! Running too fast too often can also be problematic. The mechanical and physiological stress that we put on our bodies at low speed has nothing to do with the stress that we inflict on them in a fractionated session. To some extent, this stress is good because it allows you to progress.
But if you exceed your capacity, injuries will inevitably occur. Running fast (in fact everything that is not fundamental endurance, so don't think that the marathon pace which is easy enough is not concerned!) will force the body to increase the share of energy produced in anaerobic conditions. And the higher this share is, the greater the physiological stress. A stress that takes much longer to come down than that of a simple jog! Without going into detail, it is 36 to 72 hours, depending on the intensity of the session, to return to a normal state of stress after a major session.
And once again, a simple run too fast can often tip the balance to too high a stress level so be careful. If you run for 36 to 72 hours after an intense session, make sure it is in fundamental endurance! An experienced runner will tend more towards 36 hours and a beginner towards 72 hours. But the intensity of the session is also to be taken into account, the harder it is, the longer it takes to recover.
4- Do not rush the warm-up
The warm-up is really one of the keys to be able to give the maximum during a session... but also to avoid injuries. Because the body is not able to move from a state of rest to intense activity with a snap of the finger. He does it if we force him to, but the performance will be very limited and above all we will take a great risk of injury.
Muscles in particular are not warm and therefore not flexible enough to withstand an effort. And the risk here is not only a muscle injury. Because if the muscles are stiffer than normal and you make a little too much effort, other structures will compensate and potentially take on too much load and catch fire... Tendonitis being common in running... be careful with that!
In short, I only mentioned the part specific to injuries, but the benefits of a good warm-up are many.
5- Be an actor in its recovery
I gave you a recovery time that will help you avoid injuries after a big session. This time is quite variable from one session to another. But you can also reduce it by being involved in your recovery. Without going into detail, there are 4 essential things related to recovery that must be considered to avoid injuries:
First of all, sleep. Our body recovers mainly in our sleep. And the physical part of this recovery is particularly present in the second part of the night. Avoid cutting into your sleep at all costs.
Hydration and nutrition are then big points. Staying hydrated all the time and eating healthy as often as possible will have a huge impact on your recovery. Dehydration and poor nutrition will also generate stress on the body which, when applied to a body already tired from training, will increase the risk of injury.
Stretching/massage: injury prevention also involves manual work to reduce muscle and tendon tension. And manual work does not necessarily mean visiting a professional. Using simple tools will allow you to work on the different muscle and tendon tensions you can have and help reduce them. Simple tools such as the self-massage roller, a lacrosse ball, the investment is 30 to 50€ in total.
6- Vary the terrain as much as possible!
There's nothing better than asphalt to break a runner. And the more kilometres you accumulate, the more true it is. Bitumen is the hardest surface on which to run. If you have perfect technique and a very solid body, you limit the risks quite a bit, but for many amateurs, you are not in this case.
In short, all this to say that running on other types of terrain, whether on roads, in the forest or simply on tracks, will greatly help to reduce the risk of injuries. So as soon as you have the opportunity, avoid asphalt and your body will be grateful.
7- Be proactive by working on your weaknesses!
I mentioned self-massages in point 5, it's really useful, I do it almost every day. But in an ideal world, that's not enough. To massage the parts that will be most important to you, you still need to know what your problems are. Your weaknesses are unique to you and only a professional can help you find them. Do an evaluation with a physiotherapist or physiotherapist (look for the experienced runner to make it more effective!).
It is ideal for defining work axes. He will also be able to manipulate you to remove tension and increase your joint mobility, among other things. And above all, it will give you one or more exercises to improve the weaknesses you have. These weaknesses are for many people progress limiters and succeeding in correcting them will mean avoiding injuries but also making more progress!
Especially for those who practice intensively, I think it should be a must. For the others, do an evaluation even if everything is going well (And you will see that it is an investment that can pay much more than any other running training!)
8- Keep in mind that avoiding injuries is about progress!
Finally, I would like to give you a piece of advice that has changed the way I train and allowed me to progress over the long term. This advice is that my number one objective, before any performance objective, is to avoid injuries. I spent many years stagnating in my performance because I was injured once or twice a year. (during an injury you lose all the benefits of your training... And in the long term there is no progress)
So now, when I have a doubt, I always take the security option. Sometimes it means taking a break for a few days or not finishing a training session because there is an abnormal sensation. But above all, it means that on a daily basis, I apply as much as possible the advice I gave you previously. Not only when competitions happen, but all year round. We make a little less progress in the short term by operating in this way. But by avoiding injuries, we ensure that in the long term, the progress will be greater.