3 Keys To Injury Free Running

As we get to the end of an amazing summer, sometimes we get asked what is a good activity to supplement with our workouts at Premier Movement. Now this is very person dependent, but running can be a GREAT addition to our workouts.

The benefits of running include:

  • Helps the aging process
  • Lowers Hypertension
  • Balances Cholesterol levels
  • Improves Mood
  • Improves Cardiovascular Function
  • Decreases Chances for Chronic Disease
  • Improves Brain Function

 Etc. etc. etc.

Now, on the opposite side of the spectrum, running can cause injuries, period. There is about 12 million runners in the United States, and the injury rate is close to 50%! This is a huge statistic, but there are some things the research tells us that are key to staying injury free (and many ideas that are still being debated).

1. Start slow, and gradually add on mileage. This one is non-negotiable, and if you add too many miles too quick, your chances for injury go up exponentially. Following a well researched and thought out training plan can be the key in either winding up with an injury, or crushing your marathon!

There are many different training programs, and if they are following the idea of increasing load gradually, they are ok in my books. This can be a certain percentage, or it can be a specific, designed training program.

Personally have started following the Run Less, Run Faster training program. With some programs the time commitment is more than I can handle with running a business, seeing patients, being a dad, and training. The Run Less, Run Faster program is ideal for me because it only requires 3 runs per week, and only one of those are a “long” run. This means I only have to make the commitment to a very long run once a week. This doesn’t mean it is the best program for everyone, but it is one to consider! Here is a link for more information on this program https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20799296/run-your-best-marathon-with-less-training/

There is also a book called Run Less, Run Faster that is a great read for anyone looking for more information on this program.

So why does increasing mileage/load gradually lead to less injuries? Because it allows your tissues time to adapt. Seems pretty simple right? If you go to the gym and try to bench 300 lbs. without benching in a year (or 5-10 years for many runners), what do you think your chances are of getting injured? Lets just say they are a lot higher than if you had gradually built up to the 300 lbs. bench for months. Your tissues need time to adapt. Gradual loading progressions can be a great way to achieve this.

2. Strength Training. This is another one that I consider non-negotiable for staying injury free running. For most of us, we get the idea of running a 5k, 10k, or something along those lines. Then we just go out and figure we can start running that distance for training. Before we even set out on a run, we should have a baseline of strength built up. Strengthening the hips, core, and upper body all can help with remaining injury free.

For me, this makes the most sense as it relates to posture. We need to maintain a certain posture during a run, for as long as possible. If we fall out of our ideal running mechanics, our chances for injury go up. Strength training is an amazing way to get stronger, so that we can avoid muscle imbalances, and weak muscles that may pre-dispose you to problems.

With every running strength program, there should be some built in areas we need to address :

Hip Abductor Strength

Diaphragmatic Breathing/Bracing (core stability)

Hip Flexor Strength

Tendon Load (achilles, patellar, plantar fascia, etc.)

**Of course there are others, but that is a good start.

Now the exercise choice can go in a lot of different ways. A good training program should be addressing these issues to begin with (obviously I’m biased towards what we do at Premier Movement). Getting stronger before you start running is always a good idea.

3. Eat Better, Sleep Better

This is one of those ideas I think people overlook ALL the time. What’s ideal sleep? Usually it hovers around 7-8 hours a night. There a very small percentage of people who have a gene that allows them to function off less sleep than this, but in general this is the minimum amount of sleep people should be getting! The book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker is a great resource for more sleep information.

There is also research supporting your chances for injury increase when you get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Crazy stuff right?

Now diet. Before I even begin to talk about diet, I want to say that everyone is individual, and the ideal diet for one person may look very different than the ideal diet for another. Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Atkins, LCHF, LFHC, calories matter, calories don’t matter, etc, etc, etc. It can be exhausting just trying to keep up to all the experts arguing about nutrition lol. So what can we do with the information. One thing that is established with the body is Chronic Inflammation is a pre-cursor to many diseases. It also affects every single cell in your body, so if you are in a chronic pro-inflammatory state, it stands to reason that your injury risk will go up. There is actually a mechanism by which this inflammation causes pain too (one great resource for this information is https://deflame.com/ by David Seaman). Sometimes we think that because we are exercising, that diet no longer matters, that we can just eat whatever we want. Obviously you are allowed to have cheat meals, but as much as you can eat a clean anti-inflammatory diet, your chances for injury will decrease and your health will get better!

There are also numerous other ideas about injury prevention that have conflicting evidence. Footwear, barefoot running, orthotics, stretching, flexibility, running mechanics, etc. etc. I am not going to dive into those in this article, simply because either the evidence is conflicting, or they are good for some, but not for others.

P.S. I will also add that a good warm up before you run is very important. I plan on coming out with an article for the best warm-up for running in the near future!

Kirk Mason