Recreational running has also become a great social activity in our society today. Everyone who has incorporated it in their lifestyle knows the health benefits associated with it. Due to the increased number of people currently engaging in fun running, there are now more cases of running related injuries than there were few years back. I get asked all the time how one can deal with these injuries and since every case is different we are going to look at general ways to avoid or manage running related injuries.
Build your mileage gradually
It is human nature to try and accomplish as much as possible in life within a short time. For running unfortunately, doing too much too soon will only hurt you and discourage you from pursuing your favorite sport. This mainly applies to beginners more than advanced runners. It is important to remember that your body has to adjust to accommodate the any increased physical stress and it can only do so gradually. An increment of around 10 percent of your weekly mileage is enough after every 3 to 6 weeks. In other words, if you are doing 15 miles per week and you want to increase your mileage, you do not need to go past 16.5 miles per week. Bear in mind that your body will need up to 4 weeks to accommodate the increase comfortably.
Avoid running on hard surfaces
Most injuries associated with running are as a result of running on hard surfaces. I am sure there are trails or parks almost every location and making good use of them is paramount. If you like running along paved surfaces, at least make an effort to run on grass or dirt roads or trails once or twice every week. A good time is when you are doing one of your longer runs; it is refreshing to your legs. It is also important to avoid uneven surfaces as these may mess up the alignment of your body especially your legs and back.
Choose the right running shoe
I cannot stress this enough, but the condition of your running shoe greatly determines the number, type and frequency of running related injuries in your running pursuits. In other words, if you choose the wrong shoe type for your feet, the chances are that you be hurt even if the shoes are new. Sometimes you may have the right type of running shoe, but you have exceeded the mileage requirement for the shoe. If you are a beginner and you are not sure what type of running shoe to buy, get advice from running shoe expert or your trainer or more experienced runners. Avoid buying cheap shoe simply because of the price, it may cost you a fortune to treat injuries or even worse case stop you from running altogether.
Supplement recreational running with other activities
Our bodies need a break from running especially when we are tired. Since taking a break has its place in our running schedules, I recommend doing other activities that will yield similar benefits as running, but put less stress in our bodies. Swimming and biking are the two most common and effective supplements to running. Both of these activities lift the pressure away from your legs and in the process allow them to recover without you really taking time off from working out. If swimming is not enough, try running in the pool, this will surely give you a great workout. Swimming and biking are also great for rehabilitation after sustaining an injury.
Take time off from running
As mentioned earlier in this article, our bodies need time to accommodate the physical stress that we are inducing through running. The principle behind training in any sport is to improve performance. This happens through recovery and adaptation. The simple explanation of this fact is when you run you are stressing your muscles and other body systems and they can only be stressed to a certain level. Once that level is reached, fatigue sets in and if you do not stop, your body will break down. The best way to avoid breaking down due to fatigue is to take one or two days off every week from running. If you neglect taking time off, you are calling for trouble, you will get burnout or injured and you may not have a choice but to quit running.
Eat healthy and hydrate well
Most people use recreational running to lose extra weight or control their body weight. Due to bad advice, I have seen people running and still eating wrong foods and drinking highly dehydrating drinks. If the whole idea of running is to be healthy, then it does not make sense to counter that effect with bad eating habits. There is no right or wrong, I believe moderation is the key. Eating a desert once in a while is great and fun, eating it after every meal – well, you can answer that for yourself. It is a fact that carbonated drinks when taken excessively only help to dehydrate your body. Drinking water and non-carbonated sports drinks are highly recommended. Supplements and vitamins also go along way in keeping you away from injuries. So remember always to eat enough to supply just enough energy to meet your daily demands, but not excess that will be stored as fats. Extra body weight makes your body more susceptible to injuries.