Running is one of the most heavily participated sports and recreational activities in the world. However, from a young age we are told to go out on the streets and run until we are tired. This may be alright for a while but further on down the road you will be likely to sustain an overuse injury that takes away your passion for running.
In order to make running a lifetime activity you need to be aware of some of the contributing factors that lead to common running injuries. Once you acknowledge these injury causing factors then you can develop the right plan for you. This applies to both the recreational runner as well as the competitive runner.
To ensure that you gain the most out of your training sessions while also reducing the risk of sustaining an injury be sure to take note of the following mistakes made by many athletes and coaches.
Excessive hill running that can often lead to excessive demands placed on the calf muscles (possible shin splints). Shin splints are an absolute nightmare for a runner. This type of injury can put you out of running for months.
Excessive downhill running can lead to increased stress on the quadriceps muscle. Most athletes say that running down hill is easier; however, it is just as tough on your body as running up hill.
Running in one direction all the time (if doing track work or running around the tennis court, football field etc.) can cause excessive pronation on the inside leg. Once again this can be easily fixed by alternating directions in which you run.
Running on unforgiving surfaces such as street running (high impact). Asphalt is not an appropriate running surface. This is one of the major causes of knee and hip injuries for runners. Roads are made for cars and not for runners! If you must run on asphalt then add in some runs on a grass surface.
Lack of variety in your training sessions can lead to overuse injuries as well as mental boredom. Select different workouts each week. Do you always run the same route in the same direction each time? If so vary where you run, the distance you run as well as the intensity of the run.
Running on an uneven surface such as a grass field. Often athletes try to avoid the hard surface of the streets so they decide to run on uneven fields which can lead to injuries of the feet. I love running on ovals as they are more friendly on my body but I choose not to run on a football ground as I know that the surface is likely to be uneven and full of holes. Most recreational parks are better.
Increasing training volume too quickly (allow for individual progression). This is a tough one for highly driven individuals who thrive on pushing themselves. Have a plan and follow it. Even if you feel that you can push yourself and run that extra mile hold back!
Increasing the pace or speed at which you run too quickly (can be achieved slowly through Fartlek training). Try to stick to your plan and run at a similar speed before you get into your next phase. As we improve we often want to run faster. Increasing both the speed and distance of your run at the same time can lead to injury.
It is important to wear the proper footwear when you run. Encourage your athletes to change from their normal sports shoes (eg. tennis shoes, basketball shoes) to running shoes prior to starting their run. Wearing tennis or basketball shoes while running long distances will lead to injuries. They don’t provide the required support for the feet.
Recognize that each individual will have their own pace and level of endurance so set individual goals for each athlete. When running in a group at a set pace, that pace may be comfortable for some runners, but too fast for others. Divide your athletes into two even groups. This is often a big flaw for many coaches of sports teams. We have all been guilty for doing this in the past but you must allow for individual abilities of athletes.
Running long distances in extreme weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, hot and humid conditions or even when there has been a high pollution alert level given by the weather bureau. My tennis coach in college would often make our tennis team run at 7:00 am in the morning in the middle of a winter in North Carolina. As you could imagine we would often suffer from bronchitis and other common respiratory ailments. Unfortunately mine developed into pneumonia so make sure that the environmental conditions are appropriate for running.
Be smart when you run and your body will thank you for it!
About the Author:
David Horne is a former professional tennis player who has created several online sports web sites including Global Sports Zone which is the Ultimate Sports Directory for all sports fans! You can also visit the global web site for Tennis Coaching at Global Sports Coaching