Spring is typically a busy time for runners. As the weather warms up, more people are willing to mark their calendars, throw on their spandex and trainers, and head out to a few races that are up and coming this season. But whether you’re training for your first 5K run or you regularly commit to those family mud runs in and around London, it’s important to teach yourself about the do’s and don’ts of running so you don’t fall prone to injury. And we aren’t talking about those injuries called bruises and scrapes, unfortunately – we’re talking about sports injuries that may bother you more long-term than you’d like.
Anyone can get injured from sports, whether that be a professional athlete or a once-a-month jog through the park. Some people already know the major derailing of a fitness goal that an injury can cause, so it’s best to do what you can to avoid that scenario. Luckily, our head of physiotherapy, Trudy Wood, has shared five of her top tips pre- and post- running so you can stay safe this season and perform your best.
1. Always warm-up
A thorough warm-up increases the blood flow to the muscles in your body, meaning that your muscles will be less stiff and you will have a way lower chance of getting injured. Often, a good warm-up can even help your performance, no matter the sport you play. By raising your body temperature, dilating your blood vessels, and improving your range of motion, you will also feel more prepare mentally. A few ideal warm-up exercises for an upcoming race include a light jog around the beginning of the course with a few sprints to stimulate all the muscles you need for running. Warming-up may seem redundant, and it may be difficult to know how to do it at first, but over time your body will thank you. Plus, you can experiment with what works best for you. Remember that practice makes perfect!
2. Make sure to stretch pre-run
Following a light warm-up, it’s a good idea to do some dynamic stretches for the major muscle groups you’ll be using such as the quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. Also keep in mind your abs, back and calf muscles. Dynamic stretches are different to static stretches in that they are in constant motion through the joint range. They also activate the joint-lubricating synovial fluid. . A few, key dynamic stretches you could do are walking lunges, side stretches, hip circles and calf raises with your heels off a step..Repeat each movement 20-30 times
3. But also stretch afterwards!
After a long run, chances are you will feel rather exhausted. You may be tempted to sit or lay down as you catch your breath, but it’s important to stretch when your muscles are still warm and elastic. So take a few gulps of water, and as soon as you can, begin doing some static stretches for a smooth recovery. Try a hip flexor stretch, hamstring stretch, quad stretch and calf stretch, and feel free to use objects such as a chair or the wall for a deeper range of motion and more stability. Make sure you hold each pose for at least 30 seconds – any less and you may as well not be doing it!
4. Try interval training
If you’re looking for a good way to prepare for the upcoming race and have no idea how to start training, you can try intervals to get you cardiovascularly fitter, faster. The more cardiovascularly fit you are, the less likely you are prone to injury due to fatigue or poor running form. One way of tapping into these high-intensity workouts is to sprint intervals of 100 meters six times. The recovery periods between each sprint should be quite long, about three times the time it took you to run the initial 100 meters. During this interval, try jogging lightly or walking to keep your heartrate up. Interval training is great for building speed, power and stamina, even for longer races where your speed should more or less stay consistent.
5. But avoid over-training
Athletes with a higher number of consecutive days of training tend to have more injuries. That shouldn’t come as a surprise though, because even though many people think that the more you train the better you will perform, rest is a critical component of proper training. Rest allows your body to recover, grow stronger, and avoid fatigue and burnout or overuse of certain muscles. Essentially, if you don’t take the time to recharge your body, your performance may slowly start to dwindle, or it will be abruptly forced to end due to an injury. Make sure to take at least one day a week off of all exercise.
Always contact a physiotherapist when struggling with sports injuries, aches in the body, or requiring advice regarding mobility and function. With the Qured, you can see a physiotherapist at a time and location of your choice. For more information and to book an appointment, check out -> qured.com/physiotherapy