Last week’s article created quite a bit of response. It seemed to resonate with quite a few of you. In fact you only have to mention the word “injury” and somebody will go down with something. This week we will look at injury avoidance.
Housemaid’s knee, writer’s cramp and tennis elbow can all be summed up as repetitive strain injuries. That is, an injury resulting from repeatedly doing the same thing over and over. Most injuries associated with running are either “repetitive strain injuries” or “accidental injuries”. The latter may be due to stepping awkwardly on a kerb stone or by a sudden twist of the body. I have even incurred injuries from sleeping in an awkward position or turning over in bed. Once you have fully recovered from an accidental injury then it should not recur. But an accidental injury can cause a secondary strain. For example, if you have a shoulder injury it may not prevent you from running. But it may throw your body out of balance which means that you put uneven strain on the lower limbs whilst running. This then results in injury to the lower limbs.
Accidents will happen, but repetitive strain injuries can be avoided by avoiding repetition. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop running. You just need to add as much variety as you can into your running to reduce the repetitive strain. Here are some things to try out to add variety to your running.
Each time you run you strain the muscles in your legs. But the nature of the strain will be different at different paces. The faster you run, the longer your stride and this then changes the impact of your foot with the ground. So changing pace is a way of avoiding repetitive strain. It is also absolutely recommended as a recipe’ for improving your race times. So mix up your weekly training plan with LSD, Tempo runs and interval sessions.
Change Running Surface
Hard running surfaces are not necessarily bad and soft surfaces are not always good. But running on the same surface all of the time is bad. So vary the surface. Sometimes tarmac, sometimes cushioned surface, sometimes on the beach / sand.
Too much of running in Dubai is on flat surfaces. Try adding a session a week of hills. You can run at the Dubai Autodrome every Wednesday evening from 6:00 pm or any evening in Mushrif park. You can also do hill repeats in Safa Park.
No two pairs of shoes are alike. Even if they are the same style and brand there will be a slight difference which then changes the way the shoes causes strain on the muscles. Old shoes will behave differently from new shoes. Always have 2 or 3 pairs of running shoes on the go at a time and rotate through them during the week. Some runners even use different styles of shoe for different training depending on whether they are doing an LSD run or intervals.
Tri-athletes experience the least amount of repetitive strain injuries. Their weekly training plan includes running, swimming and cycling. Cross training can exercise the cardiovascular system whilst reducing repetitive strain.