No one likes to get injured. Recognising the warning signs and taking proactive action can prevent you from becoming injured.

Running Injuries and how spot them and avoid them

This Blog was inspired by McMillan Running blog on injury interruption I have used this protocol many times AND it works. 

The typical injury cycle in runners often involves a combination of factors, and understanding these stages can help you recognise and prevent unnecessary injuries.

Most injuries develop the same way: You feel a tightness as the result of a dysfunction in the body tissues, likely in the muscle, tendon, or fascia tissues. Left unaddressed that tightness, can progress to become an ache or a pain. Continuing to ignore that, can lead to a full-blown injury. Something that stops you running.

Injury Path: Tightness > Ache/Pain > Injury

Identify areas of tightness using mobilisation techniques. Focus on tight areas and give them extra attention.

If tightness doesn’t resolve or it is progressing to become an ache or pain, try the following for up to 3 days:

  • Reduce your training load or volume by up to 50%. This gives your body time to fully recover. Feel free to substitute low-impact cross-training that does not aggravate the tightness.
  • When you do run, avoid making the ache or pain worse.
  • Find a body worker, that specialises in runners for treatment. These specialists (physical therapist, masseuse, chiropractor, etc) are experts in manipulation bodies.
  • Do mobility work two to four times a day.
  • Reduce inflammation by taking an ice bath up to two times a day
  • Reduce your stress hormones, smile, laugh, this reduces your stress and allows your body to recover faster.
  • Rest, rest, rest, Prioritise sleep. Our bodies self-repair when we sleep. Focus on getting 8 to 10 hours.

Ease back into training

After 3 days test the tight area if the tightness has resolved ease back into training. Rather than going straight back out for a run, take the time to walk for 5 minutes, jog for 5 minutes, repeat this a couple of times and then if there is still no tightness increase the jog time up to 10 minutes, with a 3-minute walk between.  If all is fine use the next week to slowly ramp up you training to the prior level

In nearly all cases this proactive injury strategy, you have you back to training pain and tightness-free in no time. None of us like to miss training, however, a slight reduction will be of less impact than a full-blown injury. Don’t let it get to that point.

If the tightness or pain has not receded during this time, it is time to see your health professional

What follows is a general overview of the injury cycle and strategies to intervene at each stage:

Overuse and Training Errors:

Recognition: Gradual onset of pain or discomfort during or after running, especially with an increase in mileage, intensity, or inadequate recovery.


      - Follow a gradual training progression.

      - Avoid sudden increases in mileage or intensity.

      - Incorporate rest days and adequate recovery into your training plan.


Muscle Imbalances and Weakness:

Recognition: Imbalances in strength, flexibility, or muscle activation can contribute to altered biomechanics and increase the risk of injuries.


Include strength training exercises targeting major muscle groups, especially the core, hips, and lower extremities.

      - Address any muscle imbalances through targeted exercises.

      - Incorporate cross-training to engage different muscle groups.


Poor Biomechanics and Running Form:

Recognition: Observing abnormal movement patterns, such as overpronation or excessive impact, during running.


      - Consider a biomechanical analysis by a professional to identify and address form issues.

      - Focus on proper running technique.

      - Wear appropriate footwear for your running style.


Inadequate Warm-up and Cool-down:

Recognition: Skipping warm-up or cool-down routines can contribute to stiffness, reduced flexibility, and increased injury risk.


      - Prioritise a dynamic warm-up before running to prepare muscles and joints.

      - Include static stretching in your cool-down routine to improve flexibility.


Insufficient Rest and Recovery:

Recognition: Persistent fatigue, a decline in performance, and an increased susceptibility to injuries.


      - Schedule rest days into your training plan.

      - Prioritise quality sleep and active recovery methods.

      - Listen to your body, and adjust training intensity or volume as needed.


Poor Nutrition and Hydration:

Recognition: Inadequate nutrient intake can compromise muscle recovery and overall performance.


      - Maintain a well-balanced diet that supports your energy needs.

      - Stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after runs.


Mental Health and Stress:

Recognition: Stress, anxiety, and burnout can contribute to physical injuries.


      - Manage stress through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or other stress-reducing activities.

      - Prioritise mental health and listen to your body's signals.


Ignoring Early Warning Signs:

Recognition: Disregarding early signs of discomfort, pain, or fatigue.


      - Pay attention to your body and address any issues promptly.

      - Don't push through pain – seek professional advice if symptoms persist.


Lack of Professional Guidance:

 Recognition: Attempting to self-diagnose and treat injuries without seeking professional help.


Consult with a running coach, physical therapist, or sports medicine professional for guidance on training, form, and injury prevention.


 Inadequate Rehabilitation:

  Recognition: Failing to address underlying issues and skipping rehabilitation exercises.


      - Follow rehabilitation exercises prescribed by a physical therapist.

      - Gradually reintroduce running after an injury, under professional guidance.


 Returning to Running Too Soon:

  Recognition: Resuming running without adequate recovery after an injury.


      - Follow a structured return-to-running plan provided by a healthcare professional.

      - Gradually increase intensity and duration.


 Lack of Adaptation:

  Recognition: Neglecting to modify training plans based on individual needs and responses.


      - Be flexible with your training plan and adjust based on how your body responds.

      - Consider periodisation to allow for cycles of intensity and recovery.


In summary, recognising the stages of the injury cycle and implementing preventive measures at each stage are key to staying injury-free as a runner. Personalising your training, seeking professional guidance, and prioritising overall health and recovery contribute to a more sustainable and enjoyable running experience. If you experience persistent pain or injuries, consult with a healthcare professional or a sports medicine specialist.


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