The RUNeasy report #1: Is there a way to prevent Running Injuries?

There is no pain greater than the pain of not being able to run. Most runners will battle with injury at some stage during their running career. For most, the ability to run injury free seems like a myth or a super power only a select few are blessed with.

Since running became popular in the 1970’s we’ve seen a growth in research looking at prevalence, cause, prevention and treatment of running related injuries. Countless books have been written on the topic of running injury prevention and the shelves in running shops are lined with gadgets that will help prevent and cure injuries. Even with all this new technology and information available today, running related injuries are still occurring at the same rate with around 60% of recreational runners sustaining a running-related injury each year and we see injury rates rise to as high as 90% in runners training for a marathon.

Physiotherapy has long since been the first choice for runners when it comes to injury treatment.  A patient once said to me:  “you know you’re a runner when you have your Physio on speed dial”. 

Physiotherapy usually deals with running injuries in the following sequence:

Physiotherapy treatment strategies are effective in resolving pain and injury. Physiotherapists will also aim to find and address the cause of the injury, whether it is weakness, immobility, poor running form or an improper training program. Addressing the cause of pain and injury will assist in preventing recurring injuries.

What if we could prevent the injury from occurring in the first place?  Is it possible to follow a training program that will protect us form injury?

I started the RUNeasy Running Clinics to teach runners to do exactly that. The RUNeasy approach combines all the principles that’s essential for an effective injury prevention program:

1. Optimal Running Form:
Most of us just assume that we were born with the natural ability to run. As a result, runners rarely consider that perhaps they run with poor technique that might contribute to injury. Correcting your running form will reduce excessive load on affected joints and soft tissue structures during running, thus reducing risk for injury.

2. Strength Training:
Strength training will strengthen your bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments to ensure your body can resist the repeated stresses applied during running.  The stronger you are, the longer and harder you will be able to run before tissue breakdown occurs.

3. Maintenance of Mobility:
Sub-optimal mobility leads to poor movement patterns that can cause overload on affected structures. We don’t need to bend like gymnasts, but even minor improvements in mobility will promote better overall movement and form during running.

4. Goal Orientated Training Programs:
By following a training program tailored to your specific training and racing goals you will avoid overtraining and injury. A well-structured training program will demand enough running to stimulate change in fitness but not so much as to cause over-training.

5. Optimal Recovery Strategies:
Continuous running, without adequate rest, will eventually cause tissue breakdown.  We can only improve and get stronger if we allow the body time to rest and adapt to new training loads. Proper nutrition, enough sleep and rest days all play a crucial role in promoting optimal recovery.

By implementing these principles, you will not only lower your injury-risk, but also improve your running performance and efficiency.

Isn’t the ultimate goal to spend less time at the physio’s office and more time running?

Happy Running
Tarrin van Niekerk

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