If there is one thing that is the single biggest deterrent for achieving goals, I would have to say it is injuries. Injuries just plain stink! As runners, we all know that it takes half the time to lose any gains in speed and endurance as it does to develop them. And it is for this very reason, not wanting any setbacks, that causes us to push ourselves right into the entrapment of an injury. So how can we avoid being caught in the snare, and ride out a steady course to accomplishing our goals?
5 Tips to Keep You on Your Feet
- Listen to Your Body: Yes, this is the same advice that has been around forever, but it is also the wisest advice. Body parts generally don’t just snap all of the sudden into a full blown injury. Normally, injuries present themselves gradually beginning with minor aches, pains, or tweaks in the way we feel when we run. Avoid running through pain and get back on track before things become more serious. Take a day or two off or cross-train by engaging in some physical activity that doesn’t irritate the area.
- Recognize your Limits: Everyone handles training differently. Each of us a have a breaking point or threshold where the body says enough is enough. It is important to allow the body sufficient time to adjust to new demands placed on it. Runner and sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut, D.P.M., warned us to be leery of the “Terrible Too’s: too much, too soon, too fast.” The number one cause of running injuries that are self-inflicted is errors in training. There is a process to getting in better and faster, and you really can’t rush that process.
- Resistance Training: Resistance training is critical, not so much to gain bulk or muscle mass, but to strengthen areas that may be more prone to injury. According to biomechanic specialist Reed Ferber, PhD, who is also the head of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary, strengthening the hip muscles is of particular importance. He said, “When you strengthen the hips-abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus-you increase your leg stability all the way down to the ankle.”
- Practice R.I.C.E: This acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This is a tried and true recipe for reducing swelling, pain relief, and protection of affected tissues, all of which will increase the rate of healing. Most runners have the ice part down pat. The only problem is, without the other ingredients, the tissues will not have time enough to heal. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off as opposed to much, much longer if the injury gets worse.
- Log Your Shoe Miles: Shoes should also be replaced every 300-500 miles. Shoes make a big difference for a runner. Just like football padsplay a critical rolein protecting a football player from injury, having the right king of shoe for your foot is a huge factor for runners. There are many specialty stores that offer expert advice on which running shoe is best for you based on your foot type.
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Burfoot, Amy. The 10 Laws of Injury Prevention. Runner’s World, Mar. 2010.