Avoiding Running Injuries - partial transcript from Audio for Week of July 8/13
When I’m conducting workshops, I oftern begin by asking the question: how many of you in the past year have had some sort of injury requiring medical attention, physiotherapy or pains or illness that have interrupted your training – that have prevented you from doing your regular routine? ….. (notice I label an illness an injury).
And, inevitably, about 75 per cent in the group will grimace….yes grimace.. and raise their hands into the air.
Now that’s a sad situation. Because the secret of getting ahead in the sport of long distance running is to be able to string, not weeks, but months together of consistent training.
Folks…..folks….Runners …..this is a very unforgiving sport – one that has a very sinister side to it…..you have to always be wary…..because make no mistake….it’s a very concussive activity where1000’s of times during a workout you are crashing to the ground …..
And it’s not like football, or hockey, where you can often play through injuries…..and still be effective because of other skills.
And I'm not wanting to jinx you, BUT, if you are competitive you're going to push the envelope and eventually you will sustain some sort of injury or develop an untimely flu…..it’s sort of like for anyone who regularly bicyles ...every rider falls…..and as we all well know some bikers even fall from grace……
So it’s important you play it smart and always be thinking of injury avoidance by building in safety margins
So what are the reasons for injuries?
Well I have 7 PLUS 1
Reason #1) Doing too much too soon. I personally learned this the real hard way…Regular listeners will recall that last week I talked about one of my heroes, Jerome Drayton, and because I learned that he and other top runners at the time were doing well over a 160 km. per week, I decided, at the age of 20, to up my distances drastically, and, for awhile, I enjoyed some huge improvements …but I eventually developed a serious injury which put me out the picture for a couple of years.
And the truth is determining what actually is too much in terms of volume and/or intensity is a matter of judgment and experience – there is no hard rule of thumb – that’s often the value of having a coach….hint hint…. But basically the game is to increase cautiously to a new level…hold for a while and allow time for adaptation and, when you think it’s safe increase again.
By the way, in this regard personal trainers can drive me crazy. It's like they want to make sure the client feels like they are getting their money’s worth by working them hard. And that's cool. BUT not in the first few workouts. I’ve had many clients crippled by their personal trainers having them hit it hard with forward lunges and hardly being able to walk…..
Reason # 2) Biomechanical issues….obviously, not everyone is ideally constructed to run. They may be knock-kneed, or bow-legged, or have one leg longer than then other, or hyperpronate, scoliosis, etc.…..all of which may simply increase the odds of getting injured …
Reason # 3) Accidents - pretty obvious - life happens…you sprain an ankle or you strain a back muscle during a house move….. out of the blue …..one of Canada’s top marathoners, Reid Coolsaet was enjoying a solid year of consistent training and early last month crashed while mountain biking, severely breaking his collar bone and is now out of next month’s World track and field Championships.
Reason #4) Wearing the wrong shoes for you – often the first step to take if you develop some sort of issue is to make a change in shoes – unfortunately, it’s a trial and error process.
Reason # 5) Getting hurt doing other activities. – you go to a barbeque and play pick up soccer and bam….. in grade 11, I stopped downhill skiing for this reason.
Reason #6) Growth Spurts during adolescence. This is a biggie ! and the growth spurts can make the body parts more susceptible to trouble as they change shape, proportion and size. And they can actually result in changing the runner’s biomechanics. Parents and Coaches need to really be on guard for this….I’ve coached several young athletes who have sprouted huge and during such periods little nigglies often appear that need to be respected.
Reason #7) Lifestyle….I’m talking about sleep, diet, and dealing with life challenges – we all know this but lack of discipline can be disasterous
Ok so those are 7 reasons…….Now I said I had 7 plus 1 reasons. And here’s the big reason
Reason #8) Not backing off when you do get an injury
Believe me: this is not the sport to go in to denial with or to tough it out. …you never ever want to call what you might think is the body’s bluff…..this isn’t Texas Hold’em. So if you feel a new sensation, consider it a giant red flag and don’t hesitate to take the day off or defer the hard workout.
If you run while hurt you risk not only prolonging and embedding your injury, you also risk developing other injuries as the body compensates.
By the way I address this issue in the Q and A section of my website – check out the post Dealing with Aches.