Many of us love to run, but are beset by running niggles. It’s good to have variety in any fitness programme and here are some top tips to keep you running injury-free:
1. Be strong: Many runners love to run so much they forget to do strength workouts as well. Lunges, squats, glute bridges and single-legged resistance exercises will all improve your leg strength. More muscle means more running power, and also a significant decrease in niggles. Most running injuries I see are from when someone runs too much and does no strength work.
2. Cross train: Cycling and swimming are both complimentary exercises. They are lower impact and get different muscle groups working. If you don’t have your own bike, you can always hire a city bike cheaply. Read my review here. Whilst swimming pools may be closed at the moment, I do know a number of people who’ve been braving the sea… and feeling very invigorated for it!
3. Love your feet: Visit your local podiatrist who can scrape away any tough skin that may be affecting your foot strike. Chiropodists are allowed to stay open in current lockdown and it’s amazing how much better your feet will feel. I visit my podiatrist / chiropodist every three months. Your feet are precious, treat them like gold.
4. Balance training: Standing on a wobble board or uneven surface will train the small supporting muscles in your ankles and knees. These help stabilise your joints, and having strong ankles (and good balance) will mean you’re less likely to get injured if accidentally landing badly (i.e with your foot in a rabbit hole!). Here’s the wobble board I use: https://www.amazon.co.uk/
5. The ’10 minute rule’: If you’re not sure of whether you should run, give yourself ten minutes of running, with the option to cut the run short if you’re feeling absolutely awful. Chances are, after ten minutes of running outside you’ll be feeling better and glad that you dragged yourself off the sofa!
6. Indulge yourself: A warm bath with Epsom salts is a lovely reward for a long cold run. The Magnesium in the Epsom salts can be absorbed through the skin and helps the muscles recover from exercise. Regular massage is a treat that every regular runner deserves. Massage can locate and (hopefully) fix minor niggles.
I sell Epsom Salts for £4 a kilo, that you can safely collect outdoors on Balfour Street, email me if you’d like some.
7. Don’t overtrain: This really should be number one as it’s the number one cause of running injuries. Simply put, the more you run the more likely you are to sustain a running injury. So mix it up, have fun with it, and remember you can give yourself a break sometimes. A good training programme will have scheduled rest days. Running should be a pleasure, not a punishment.
8. Streeeetch after a run: So obvious. But why? It helps ease the muscles after exercise and helps them recover more quickly. Stretching at the end if a run is when you do a ‘body check’ for any new pain or niggles.
9. Start slowly: Over the colder months, your body will take longer to warm up. Start your run easily, warming up into your stride. As your muscles warm up and have more blood flowing to them, they become more pliable and less likely to get torn. I like to make the second half of my run (the run home) faster than the first half.
10. Rome wasn’t built in day: build up distance gradually, adding only a maximum of 15% distance each week. A long term gentle running plan will be more safe and effective than a last-minute beasting of the mileage.
11. …. And sleep: sleep is when your body repairs itself, so if you’re running a demanding running programme on not enough sleep, your muscles will not repair themselves as effectively. Sleep more and run better. Zzzz