Thursday, May 18, 2006

How to Run Injury Free by Gary D Smith

Let's face it...too many runners are injured every year.
Of the millions of people in the United States who run either recreationally or competitively, over 50% will suffer some sort of running injury just this year alone!
The types of injuries most runners suffer from include shin splints, knee pains, lower back pains, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, Neuroma, Iliopsoas, pulled hamstrings, and Piriformis Syndrome.
I won't even go into the detailed descriptions of all of these because it hurts to even think about them.
But if you follow some simple running tips, then you can avoid most if not all of these injuries.
I have run consistently between 10-30 miles a week for the last four years, run 6 marathons, and numerous 10K's, without having one injury by following these simple running tips.
Tip #1: Give your Body Rest
After doing any kind of hard run, you must rest for 48 hours in orderto give your muscles time to rebuild. Running is an impact sport and creates micro-tears in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
In order to rebuild, your muscles need time away from running. I personally never run the day after a hard run. Bodybuilders are religious about resting to build muscles, and you should be too.
I have run with far too many runners who ran every day in their younger years and now cannot run at all because they blew out their knees. Our president, George Bush, ran four miles every day and now can only mountain bike because of his bad knees.
Tip#2: Run in new Running Shoes
The last time I suffered shin splints, I was running cross country in high school. in my father's old running shoes. Hmm, I wonder why I got shin splints?
The fact is the support in running shoes breaks down significantly after 500 miles. Then you take a lot of impact on your whole body.
So replace your shoes after 500 miles or three months, whichever comes faster. Your knees are worth it.
Tip #3: Do long slow runs on the weekends
Long slow runs build your aerobic capacity in your legs. This means your body learns to produce more energy and clean out the waste, lactic acid, more efficiently. So running becomes more comfortable and you don't have to work so hard in order to get a good running workout in.
Plus slow runs produce less impact on your joints, which means less injuries. I do a long run every weekend for years. This is especially necessary for marathon training.
Tip #4: Go see a doctor if you do have any strange aches or pains
My brother thought he was suffering from heel pains. He spoke to a doctor and found it was actually Plantar Fasciitis, inflammed tissue in the foot. Now he can start the proper treatment which clearly involves rest from running. After this he can go back to running.
Far too many runners continue running with pain in their bodies. If you feel any pain, then you need to see a doctor. You might need to see a specialist. Do what it takes to learn why you have pains. Running should not be painful rather it should be joyful.
Tip#5: Run on natural surfaces
I met a guy a month ago who has run over 150 marathons. I asked him how he has done all that running injury free and he told me "by running on natural surfaces". He told me he does most of his runs on grass, trails, or soft surfaces. This creates less impact obviously than running on concrete or asphalt or treadmills.
So find a trail and go run on it. Not only is it better for your legs but you will be running with plants, trees, birds, and the glory of nature. Sure beats dodging traffic.
So try some of these tips and they will allow you a lifetime practice of running. While running the Catalina Marathon a month ago, I ran by a couple both 90 years old. I told them, "I want to do what you're doing when I am your age."
You too, can run to your later years if you follow some basic principles.
Gary Smith coaches runners to run injury free and joyfully. Improve your running this year by signing up for his free newsletter at:
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