One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent injury is by creating good post-run habits. Failing to perform strength exercises and recovery techniques will increase your odds of getting injured. Here is a basic, post-run sequence to follow.
When I first started running, I realized that I not only enjoyed it, but I also had pretty good natural talent. Because of this, I went from running zero miles to 25 to 30 miles a week. Expectedly, I got injured quickly. I had severe shin splints, unnaturally tight muscles, and a stress fracture scare. I ended up having to sit out the second half of my cross- country season and, when I finally got over my shin splints (a good two months after the initial pain), I had to regain the fitness I had lost from not running regularly.
My injuries were not just over-use problems, they were the result of a combination of poor running form, weak muscles, and bad post-run routines. A gait analysis determined that I had terrible cadence, a problem that can be fixed simply by running with a metronome. I also dropped my right hip and planted with my heel. All of these could be fixed by strengthening my hips. It turns out, hip and glute strength is essential for good running form, which is the first step in injury prevention.
I began by switching to a different shoe. Sometimes all your problems can be fixed by changing up the shoes you are running in. Make sure to go to a store that specializes in running shoes and talk to a salesperson. Choose the shoe that is going to work best for you, not the one that looks the coolest (I know, it’s really hard!). Since I started running in my new shoes, I haven’t had any injuries.
The second step to ameliorating my pain was to strengthen my hips and glutes. Everyday, I do a series of donkey kicks, lateral leg raises, and fire hydrants. I do 10 reps of each exercise on each leg. I think every runner should do these exercises on a regular basis.
Finally, I do a plank series. Planks aren’t necessarily for injury-prevention, but they are great for building the full-body strength that is crucial to becoming a better runner. I start off with a minute of normal planking, then 45 seconds of side planks, each side. Finish with 45 more seconds of normal planking. Challenge yourself to not come out of the plank until you have completed the full series. In order to build up core strength, do your planks in conjunction with other exercises, like sit-ups or crunches.
Doing these exercises has certainly helped me avoid becoming injured again. Even though doing strengthening techniques is the last thing you want to do after a run, your body will thank you when you’re finished.
By Fixt Blogger Emma