Four Ways to Run Injury Free in 2013

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Every athlete wants to run faster. That’s the goal of any sport. Beat your opponent to the ball, to the spot, or across the finish line. The sport that embodies this more than any other is running, where straight-line speed dictates success.


Your entire life, you’ve been training the engines of your body to be faster. But have you ever stopped to think about training the brakes? Are you a Ferrari engine on Toyota Corolla brakes? If you’ve never stopped to think about it, let alone actually train the brakes, you may be greatly increasing your risk of running-related injury.

In strength and conditioning circles we realize that most injuries are deceleration-based, occurring when slowing down from higher speeds. In no sport are impact-related injuries more prevalent than the sport of distance running. It is the continuous effect of repetitive impact on the same muscle, bones, and connective tissue that leads to overuse injury, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and tendonitis.

These overuse injuries don’t need to happen to you. Follow these four simple steps and you’ll be able to run injury free this summer or during your next marathon:

1). Lose Weight: Less of you means less compressive stress on musculoskeletal structures when you make contact with the ground. Since impact forces when running are anywhere between 2-3 times body weight, the more you reduce your body weight, the less compression that occurs on impact. This is one of the simplest ways to prevent injuries.

2). Apply the 10% Rule: Don’t increase your running volume by more than 10% over any given one-week period. The slower the buildup, the better chance you give your body to mechanically acclimate to the stresses you’re placing on it. This longer acclimation period leads to stronger, more resilient tissues that will withstand repetitive impact. For example, if last week you ran 15 miles, you shouldn’t exceed 16.5 miles this week.

3). Weight Train: Resistance training is a great way to strengthen muscle, bone, and connective tissue. Even two short 30-minute sessions during the week can go a long way toward injury prevention. Try to train all the major muscles in your body with 2-3 sets, performing 12-15 reps/set (for beginners) and 4-8 reps/set (for more advanced trainees). Be sure you focus on leg training, as this is where we are trying to prevent injuries.

4). Train the Brakes: Incorporate deceleration-based training into your program prior to your strength training two days/week. The goal of deceleration-based training is simple. Rather than training the muscles when they’re contracting (like you do when you’re weight lifting), strengthen them while they’re lengthening (like when they activate on impact with the ground during running). The following is a simple deceleration-based workout that any runner can follow:

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Rest Int

Drop Squats

3

8

90s

Drop Landings

3

6

75s

Eccentric Calf Raise

3

6/leg

60s

Implement these simple steps and you’ll have a fun, injury-free running season. Remember, a healthy runner is a happy runner.

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