5 Tips for Injury Free Running

A runner running along the shore of a lake in black and white

1. Slowly Progress Your Run Volume

So we know that we need to overload our body to be a fitter, faster, stronger runner, but increasing that load too fast can lead to injury. The process of “progressive overload” is important in insuring that we can create the overload we are looking for without breaking down the body.

This comes from the idea that overall training stress is an equation of volume x intensity. By keeping the relative intensity consistent (in other words you may be running faster when measured in mins/km, but your effort level and/or heart rate stays the same), we can steadily increase the volume side of the equation, progressively overloading the body in a manageable and safe way.

The general rule of thumb is to increase either the session, the week, or the month by 10-20%. This applies whether you are running your first 5k, your first marathon, your 17th ultra marathon, or you are returning to running post injury.

If you are returning to running from injury, it’s usually important to support this progressive overload with regular check-ins with a musculoskeletal injury specialist. At seventy9 Sports Therapy, this means that we carry out any additional hands-on therapy work that you might need (massage, mobility), overview your rehab programme (both mobility and strength), as well as highlighting any triggers that may require a change in your programming before they develop into an injury.

Interested in finding out more? Why not check out our website or drop us an email?

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2. Good Biomechanics is Key for All Runners

In a sport and exercise environment like running, biomechanics is all about how you move, and in particular how your bodies structures and systems interact together to promote movement. This does not just have implications when it comes to injury, but also impacts positively and negatively sports performance.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to how we run. There are however a few non-negotiable movements and shapes that we like to see taking place. Our job at seventy9 Sports Therapy, therefore, is to promote these using a mix of hands-on therapy, mobility work, strength work and skill acquisition and development. Improving your biomechanics does not just decrease your overuse injury risk, but it can also allow you to run faster for the same physical effort!

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3. Improve Your Daily Mobility Habits

We all know that sitting for long periods of the day is detrimental to many aspects of life and work, however did you know that it is a significant contributor to overuse injuries in runners? Whilst you may only be symptomatic whilst running, if you spend a significant portion of the day at the desk, that should be the first port of call for positive change in your symptoms.

Simple changes can go a long way, whether that be standing to take/make phone calls, using a sit/stand desk, or simply standing for part/all of a meeting on Zoom, we can help guide you through the process of consistent, positive daily habitual change.

In addition to that, our sports massage service can help support and supplement both your habitual change and any mobility work you do outside of work/sport/exercise, regardless of whether you are a runner or participate in any other sport or exercise. Why not book yourself a sports massage in Surrey today?

A runner running towards the sun across a bridge in the mountains

4. Be a Stronger Runner

Running exists in a loaded environment where we are producing force in both deceleration and acceleration – deceleration on landing (foot strike) and acceleration on propulsion (toe off). Running performance is therefore centred in Newton’s Second Law of Motion, where

“the rate of change of momentum of a body over time is directly proportional to the force applied, and occurs in the same direction as the applied force.”

Broadly speaking, if you want to run faster, you have to develop more force in the same/shorter foot contact time. This is of course applicable to both the acceleration AND deceleration phase of running gait.

Hence, if we need to produce more force, we need to develop more strength.

However, don’t take this to mean that we need you to be squatting 400kgs and bench pressing a small car! Strength is a broad umbrella term that encapsulates force production, as well as other terms such as motor unit recruitment, strength endurance, motor patterning, stability, trunk control, etc. When we view strength as a broad term, it allows us to improve all the factors restricting your control of force during running, without just sticking you under a heavy squat bar.

Want to know more about our rehabilitation and prehabilitation services? Drop us an email or check out our website for more.

5. Rest & Recovery

The positive effects of rest are easily measurable, whether it be by qualitative scoring (“how are you feeling”), or quantitative (HRV, cortisol, etc). If you use a training programme such as TrainingPeaks, you will even see a graph describing the exact relationship between fitness and fatigue and it’s positive/negative effect on form. But are you getting enough, and are you maximising it?

Getting enough is a tricky concept to get right. Unfortunately, we’re not all professional athletes, so we have to be at work most days. Safe to say that there is a difference in recovery, therefore, between runners who work at a desk all day versus those who are working on a building site. So the question of “how much” is often individual and should be based on your needs.

What can help, regardless of what your working day looks like, is planning in download weeks into your run training plan. These are weeks whereby we reduce your volume of training, but keep the intensity the same. Therefore, the overall training stress is reduced for that week. It means that rather than just training at the same level of stimulus all the time, the body has a chance to assimilate the previous training load whilst resting in preparation for the next training block. This also has a positive benefit for us mentally and allows for a period of reset. Typically this would be the 4th week in a month, though its timing can vary for a number of reasons. For example, female athletes may choose to align their download weeks around their menstrual cycle so as not to impact the quality of training throughout the rest of the training block.

Allied to rest is recovery. They are not the same thing! Recovery encapsulates all the other modalities that allow our body to prepare for the next training load. Topics such as nutrition, self-massage, mobility, yoga, mindfulness and prehabilitation all fall under this category.

Everything is supplemental to everything else when it comes to recovery. For example, we often find that endurance athletes like runners don’t have the time to do enough recovery work to match their training stress around work/kids/life, therefore we step in to provide some targeted and/or general sports massage to supplement the work that they are able to do themselves. Not only does this mean that we can get an appropriate volume of recovery work into their schedules, but we can also be on the lookout for any problems that may be arising and set up an intervention to deal with them early, thus keeping them in exercise rather than waiting for them to be injured/in pain.

Interested in booking a regular sports massage or sports therapy appointment to supplement your own recovery work? Why not check out our online booking system to book an appointment?

A runner running along a beachside path