Injury prevention is critical if you want to improve your running. You cannot become a better runner if you are constantly being sidelined with injuries. Keep injury free so you can keep running and make it to the finish line every time!
1. Listen to your body and get to know your limits.
Plan your training schedule and increase your mileage gradually. Most experts suggest a maximum increase of 10 percent each week with an occasional easy week, usually once a month. This increase may be too much for you. Track your mileage, so you will know how much is too much for you. Pay attention to how your body feels after each increase. Sometimes a 3-5 percent weekly increase is better for some runners to remain injury free.
Don't ignore persistent pain. If you feel pain, take a few days off from running to give your body a rest and then ease back into it. If you still feel pain, take more time off and seek the advice of a professional. Positive affirmations can help you overcome and prevent injuries. Try the 10 Most Powerful Affirmations for Runners.
2. Improve your running form. Most experts now agree that having a short stride, a forefoot strike and a lean from the ankles are conducive to injury free running. Also, moving your arms is important for a relaxed, efficient running form.
3. Cross-train - for injury prevention and to improve muscle balance. Try swimming, deep-water running, cycling, rowing and other low-impact workouts. If you have an existing injury, ensure you choose a workout that doesn't aggravate your condition.
4. Do strength training. Pay particular attention to the hip area as weakness in the hips often cause problems in other areas, such as the knees and the ankles. It is also important to strengthen your feet and develop your foot muscles. You need strong feet to support your body and to maintain a strong, controlled running posture.
Begin by balancing on one foot for 30 seconds and then the other with your hands on your hips. Try to keep the inside ball, outside ball and heel in contact with the floor constantly. As this becomes easier, gradually increase the time until you can do it for 2 minutes. When you can stand on each foot easily for 2 minutes, try balancing on your forefoot.
This exercise will help you become more aware of how your foot lands while running and help you correct any inefficiencies in your posture. Over time, the increased strength and sensitivity in your feet will affect and strengthen the muscles in your legs. Yamuna Foot Savers can really help with exercising and strengthening your feet.
5. Try to run on level surfaces.
This is especially important if you are prone to injuries on one side of your body. Road camber can cause leg-length discrepancy and over-use on one side of your body. Run as much as possible on trails, tracks, sidewalks or treadmills. Running on trails can be particularly helpful in developing your stabilizer muscles that you don't normally use during road running.
6. Limit tough workouts.
For example: races and speed work. If you are prone to injuries, it is best not to push your body too hard by doing too many tough workouts too often. If you are doing races on the weekends and interval training during the week, you are probably pushing your body to the extreme. Unless you are a serious competitor, limit your race participation and do most of your speed work at tempo pace to prevent injuries. This free running pace calculator will help you manage your pace for various distances--not just for races!
If you feel tight in certain areas after you run, stretch these areas. Areas that most runners have problems with and need to stretch are the hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and the IT band. Learn how to give yourself a myofascial release or self-massage by learning How to Use a Foam Roller.
8. Run backwards.
Yes, indeed, backwards running helps maintain muscle balance. It is a funky way to improve muscle imbalance and build strength as you are reversing all the movements of normal running. It is also a great way to improve posture as you run with a more erect posture.
9. Buy the right shoe for your feet.
Wearing the right shoe is a significant aspect of injury prevention. Find the best running shoes for your stride or minimalist running shoes may be what you need to reduce or prevent injuries. There are many options to choose from including not wearing any shoes at all—Barefoot Running. Experiment with what feels right for you.
So what's your best injury prevention tip? Please share in the comments below!
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