5 Reasons you keep getting Running Injuries

Running, at its very essence, is a simple and pure sport. The open road, a wooded trail, fresh air and valuable time away from the modern world. It’s therapeutic, and a stress buster. You’ll even find that it can become addictive. The more you run, the healthier you feel. The mental and physical benefits are endless. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional runner, a marathon or sprint runner, achieving fitness and maintaining it is one thing, but avoiding running injuries is quite different. A good running technique is key.

According to a recent poll by Runners World, 50% of all runners obtain an injury, one way or another, be it mild or intense, per year. Remember that your body needs to adapt and this process takes time. The body is a fragile, multi-faceted system that needs to be taken care of.

I’ve put together five reasons you keep getting running injuries. Hopefully, this information will inspire you to take the correct precautionary measures and avoid them as best you can in the future.

  1. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast

This might sound like an obvious one, I know, but it’s one of the most common and easily disregarded. The majority of injuries happen when we increase the volume of training or the intensity of training, without correcting our running technique. Whether you’re training for a marathon or trying to get into shape, you need to build your body up slowly. Think long term. When you’re trying to add distance then you need to slow down your running speed. Be patient. And remember, you’re more likely to get a running injury when you’re tired so don’t push yourself too hard. This gives your body time to adapt.

  1. Not using the correct running technique

I believe that good form and proper running technique are key to reaching your goals and crossing the finish line strong and injury free. Try these tips:

  • Your feet should land lightly underneath the body, not ahead of it.
  • The most efficient way to run is to land on the balls of the feet, not the heel.
  • Legs should move in a cycling motion with heels kicking up towards the backside.
  • Arms should be used to get you moving forwards not upwards. Pump them and back and forth between the chin and hip, elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • Fingers should be closed by relaxed.

A proper running technique gets your body moving in the most efficient motion possible, increasing speed and endurance and helping you remain free of running injuries by reducing the impact on your ankles, knees, hips and spine. Get in touch if you’re considering taking your running to the next level.

  1. Not doing strength exercises can result in severe running injuries

Runners hate going into gyms. Why are strength exercises so important?

If you increase strength then you’ll increase joint stability and ultimately reduce the injuries caused by the repetitive stress of running. Integrate exercises such as squats and ab work into your daily workout to help prevent lower-body injuries and improve overall performance.

And the good news? You don’t even need to join a gym to do strength exercises. Rather try box step-ups with a weight in each hand. This strengthens the whole lower body – quads, glutes and hamstrings.

  1. No variation in your training

It’s important to vary your training sessions:

Include an interval session or a speed session, fartlek or tempo session.
Run across a variety of terrains and in different shoes. Tackle some hills. Not only does this keep your training more interesting, but it diversifies the types of stresses that your body endures.

The more you mix things up, the more versatile your body and muscles become. The more variation the better.

  1. Not allowing adequate recovery time

One of the biggest mistakes runners make after a long-distance run, whether it’s post-race or after an intensive week of training, is not taking enough recovery time.  Recovery is a crucial and an often neglected part of training, and imperative to preventing running injuries. According to Runners World, a day off every 7 to 14 days, restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue. If you are experiencing sudden weight loss, lack of sleep or dehydration it’s probably due to a lack of rest and maybe over-training. The body needs time to restore itself.

Although running may seem like a straightforward sport, and it really can be, professional assistance can go a long way in ensuring you approach it in the right way. The Running & Movement School has spent the last 30 years developing and implementing movement, rehabilitation and speed protocols. First, we teach you how to move, then we teach you how to move faster. 

Who taught you how to run as a child?

You were always good at sport. During your formative years, you participated in everything from running to rounders, soccer to touch rugby. You and your friends even made up your own games. You may not have been the best but for as far back as you can remember, you were always involved in sports. You participated in a number of after school clubs and enjoyed the team work and the competition.

Now you have kids of your own and you would like them to enjoy the benefits that participating in sports brings to both mind and body.

But there is a small problem.

“My kid can’t run, can’t catch, can’t throw and can’t kick!”.

Looking at them run you are bewildered at the lack of coordination. Their limbs are all moving in different directions and they keep stopping. Slow is an understatement! You wonder if there is something physically wrong.

You don’t necessarily want them to excel at sport or be a professional soccer player. It would help, but not a priority right now! You just want them to be fit and healthy.

Then there is the psychological effect. Because they know that they can’t run fast, can’t catch, can’t throw and can’t kick, they don’t want to participate in sport.

This is all because we are in the middle of what is being called an “unfitness epidemic”. Did you know that over 70% of kids between the ages of 6 and 16 do not do enough rigorous exercise to keep healthy let alone stay fit?

Most youngsters are now linked to the internet through their umbilical cord. It’s as if they are born attached to some piece of technology. They grow up with it, eat with it, sit with it, sleep with it and if they are not wasting time making “non-friends” on social media, they are watching TV.

Children need two to three hours of activity per day to stay healthy with at least one hour at high intensity.

So, what do you do?

How do you get them from sitting in a chair to running in a field?

The first thing to do is not panic:

Not all children are the same and they don’t all develop at the same physical rate. You may have two 8-year olds who have the same chronological age, but biologically one is two years ahead of the other.

So, comparing them with school friends and peers will not help you or the child because they will have varying abilities. In many instances, sport is not the answer, despite many governments promoting it as the answer to everything.

The reason is this:

The stats from most countries show that over 70% of children will stop participating in sport by the age of 14 if they feel they are not good at it.

The three, key physical “life skills” we can teach a child are:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Jumping

These three activities will develop their gross motor skills, help their nervous system to develop and more importantly develop their brain and produce endorphins which will make them move better, feel better, and think better.

The more walking, running and jumping they do when they are young, the more they will want to do when they are older. Particularly if these activities are outside in nature.

As parents, we think:

“Yes, it would be good to get the kids into running. It’ll be great for them to get some time away from the TV and computer screen if nothing else (not to mention hopefully wearing them out so they’ll go to sleep earlier)”.

And then there’s Sports Day coming up! You don’t want them coming in last in the race…

So, next time you go out you take them with you to the park and watch them shuffle along the ground, just like you, with occasional bursts of speed, arms flailing like an octopus, just like you, co-ordination all over the place. It’s going great, for about three minutes, and then they start saying they’re tired and have had enough. Already!

This is no good, you don’t want them to get in the habit of giving up too soon. So, you begin the advice:

“You can’t be tired already, try and keep going just a bit more,” you say. And then it’s, “No! Not like that… Faster… Stop swinging from side to side… No! Stop thumping the ground…”.

Your instinct as a parent is correct. Our kids do spend too much time sitting on their backsides every day, watching TV, on the internet, playing computer games, in class, being driven around. This is changing their biomechanics – the way they move and the way they hold themselves – and even their moods and ability to concentrate.

So, running is a good habit for them to pick up early in life.

But, stop and think for a moment, who taught you to run?

Chances are, nobody did. You just got up and ran.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post when we’ll be discussing how youngsters learn a particular movement pattern and how we can change their running technique in around 60 minutes. Want to know more, right away? Call us for a Free 15 min consultation and we’ll guide you in the right direction.

Mike Antoniades is the Performance& Rehabilitation Director of The Movement & Running School which has franchises across the UK and Europe and in Japan.

The Running School is a unique centre dedicated to teaching people of all ages ‘How to Run’. A detailed biomechanical assessment is carried out and then the next five sessions are devoted to teaching and coaching running technique, based on fitness levels and what you want to achieve. Courses start weekly from 8 years old to 80. 

For more information on improving your running and on franchise information visit www.runningschool.co.uk.