Many of my sports massage clients are runners and from this I know they are told many things about how their running style is ‘wrong’. In most cases people imparting their views are often just passing-on what they have heard and assume it must be true, because it sounds right. I find that this can have a very negative effect on my runners as they can remember these comments for many years, and it can hold them back from doing what they want to do. They can also jump to blaming that ‘problem’ for any injuries that they may get.
You will often hear people say that they’ve been told ‘Running is bad for you’ or ‘Running damages your bones’ or ‘Running can cause arthritis’. Unless you have awful technique, this is probably incorrect, and is a great example of something that would seem logical, but just isn’t the case. It would seem logical that you would wear-down the cartilage in the knee joint, but comparisons of runners and non-runners just do not support that belief. In fact, it is thought that, because running burns so many calories, runners have reduced the risk of osteoarthritis as less load has to be absorbed by the joint. One Stanford University Study showed that runners knees were less arthritic that non runners.
The key point is that you have to approach running sensibly. If you’re new to running, don’t do it five times a week and don’t increase speed or distance too quickly. Give your muscles the chance to increase in strength gradually so that they can cope with the extra loads. Wear shoes with plenty of cushioning and keep the featherweight shoes for races. Wear any new training shoes for a few shorter runs before you run a half-marathon in them, so that you don’t have to endure six miles of agony.
The most common theme I come across in runners who are injured is a really simple one to address. People don’t leave enough time for training, and either try to make up for it by squeezing in too many runs each week or increasing the distance too quickly. The 10% rule is a pretty good guide and simply says that you shouldn’t increase distance or speed by 10% in one week. Small increases in intensity will allow the muscles to keep up with the demands being placed upon them.
Of course, this cannot guarantee that no injuries will occur, but in taking these controlled steps, you will have at least ruled out some potential causes of injury. As a result, you should find you are better-equipped to understand the cause of any injury more quickly and this will in-turn allow you to get back to running more quickly.
Over the coming weeks I will be writing about the most common injuries and causes of injury. The first of these blogs will cover shin splints, as this is the most common running injury and often ruins training plans completely. The guide will show what the injury is, what symptoms can be expected and how you can get yourself rid of the injury as soon as possible.