Many people took to running over the past year as it was an easy way to stay fit, relieve stress, try something new, or train for a new race. It has been fun to see the roads around the area sprinkled with runners enjoying a sport I also love. As we approach the start of the Olympic games, I’m sure even more people will be inspired to run.
Although running is a simple form of exercise, all you need are shoes and a place to explore, it tends to cause overuse injuries. These are often controllable and caused by training errors, such as running too hard, too often, avoiding recovery days, or running in old shoes.
I was standing in the clinic one day thinking about how I could create simple, easy to follow, reminders to give runners the best chance of running without interruption of an injury. S.M.A.R.T came to mind and this blog was created! This is not a perfect plan, but more friendly reminders on how to safely return to running after some time off (yes, even a couple weeks off reduces your bones and joint’s ability to tolerate the loads of running) and strategies to continue to run and reduce your risk of injury.
Remember, no matter how fast, how far, or how often you run, you are a runner, and you can benefit from all these tips!
The great topic of debate. I am a firm believer that your running shoe should fit as comfortably as your favorite pair of jeans. They should feel PERFECTLY before even leaving the store. Running shoes now are constructed in a way that really does not require a break-in period. We should be able to buy our shoes and run in them that afternoon.
When you buy new shoes, take your favorite running socks with you so you know exactly how they will feel in the shoe. If you feel any “hot spots” in the shoe while trying them on, they will be there when you run.
If you already have a brand and/or style you prefer, be sure you try each new pair on before purchasing or running in them, as there can be manufacturer defects. If you are in search of new pair of running shoes, go to your local running store and try on any shoe that interests you and keep trying on shoes until you find that glass slipper.
Lastly, be sure you change out your running shoes every 300-500 miles. Shoes with less cushion need to be replaced more frequently. Another strategy to use to improve the life of your shoes is to alternate between multiple pairs. I typically keep 3-4 pairs of shoes in rotation at any given time. This gives the shoes their own “recovery days”, which allow them to regain their shape and allow the foam to reset.
For our body to be able to withstand the stress of running we need a balance of mobility and stability. They are both equally important for being able to maintain good mechanics and form, which in turn improves efficiency with running. Some great ways to improve mobility include foam rolling and yoga. There are some great online yoga resources. My favorite is “Yoga with Adriene” as she has several online yoga videos specifically for runners. I have also provided some photos of my favorite foam rolling techniques:
Here is also a link to a routine from our OrthoRI YouTube channel
A: ACTIVE WARM UP
Have you ever tried starting a run without a nice warm up? It just really does not feel great. Joints feel stiff, muscles have no spring, and it kind of just hurts.
Preparing your body to exercise is essential to having a good run. Completing a dynamic warm up increases blood flow to your muscles that will be propelling you forward on the roads. This also prepares the body to tolerate the quick movements the legs move through in the running gait. Your ankles, knees and hips will remain much happier with even a quick five-minute brisk walk prior to starting your run.
Here is a link to a basic dynamic warm up.
You can find this and many other resources on our OrthoRI YouTube channel.
R: RESISTANCE TRAINING
Runners and endurance athletes in the past were very nervous to lift heavy and possibly put on too much muscle mass. Thankfully, research in this area has shown that resistance training for endurance athletes helps improve performance and reduce an athlete’s risk for a running related injury. The consistent, heavy, work done in the gym or garage or living room builds your body’s resiliency and capacity to tolerate the stress of running which helps to reduce your risk of a running related injury. My previous blog post was a simple lifting program for runners. I have linked it below. To increases the difficulty, add some weights! Complete this 2-3x/week in addition to running. You can find this here.
T: TRAINING PROGRAM
I love running as a form of exercise, exploration, and the energy it provides throughout my day, but to really get the most out of running, and to keep your body healthy, running at least three times per week is ideal. Following a plan ensures you are taking rest days and completing a good balance of low and high intensity runs. This does not mean you always need to be training for a race or distance or constantly need to be striving to improve your speed, but as Chris Johnson, PT says, 80% of runners go at 80% intensity 80% of the time which is why up to 80% experience injuries.
Plans help you stay consistent which builds your bones, tendons, and muscles’ capacity to tolerate the stress of running, but also gives you programmed rest and recovery days. Especially if you are working to increase time, distance or speed, a specific plan will help to keep you from progressing too quickly, which can lead to an overuse injury.
There are simple plans to follow on the Nike Run Club app. Peloton also has coached runs you can listen to while you are running outdoors. Just be sure the plan you choose matches your ability and most importantly you are enjoying the program!
If you are having trouble getting started with running or noticing an increase in pain, please follow up with a health care provider. I love to treat runners and work out of our Providence office and would be happy to help you out!
Enjoy your run today!