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Understanding Running injury Prevention

Running Injury Prevention: Strategies for a Stronger, Safer Run

avoid running injuries recovery Mar 15, 2024

Whether you are returning to running postpartum, after an injury, after sickness, or simply extended time off because “life gets lifey”, it's important to remember true progress takes time!

To be honest, the biggest thing I see that’s holding runners back is actually the latter. Not big interruptions or injuries (although this can certainly lead there) but the regular old life getting lifey and missing a few days or weeks of training.

Then, when you are ready to “get back to it” you expect to be right back where you left off and immediately start progressing from there back to where you “should” be. You do too much, too soon.

The way to running injury prevention is by allowing your body to adapt to the demands of training takes time (months and years not weeks)! When you push beyond what your body can handle, too much too soon, that's typically when an injury occurs. Wrapped up with impatience is ego, competitiveness, comparison, and having your identity wrapped up in your sport.

The number one predictor of injury for runners is IMPATIENCE!

The number one CAUSE of injury in runners? OVERUSE

What does that mean exactly?

Overuse means loading the body (either with volume or intensity) past its current capacity. In other words doing too much, too soon, before your body has the appropriate time to adapt (get stronger).

Here are the keys to running injury prevention.

1 - Have patience! (see above)

2 - Progress intentionally. 

Too little stress = no progress. Too much stress = injury and/or burn out. We have to operate in our window of tolerance. Over time that window grows, we can add a little more stress (progressive overload) and make progress.

The dose makes the antidote and the poison! 

This is where a coach can be incredibly helpful!

Starting with the right dose and progressing intentionally from there is exactly what we doing at the Women's Running Academy with:

  • A full library of base building and race-specific running programs to meet you where you are now and intentionally progress towards your running goal.
  • Purposeful miles with purposeful pacing into your week using my “3 Key Runs” so that you are intentionally building volume while also improving your metabolic efficiency, and prioritizing development of a solid strength training foundation.

3 - Train your body intentionally to handle the load with strength training.

We can help move the needle along by purposefully building strength within the context of the demands of running.

I see the goal when it comes to optimizing your running economy from a biomechanics standpoint to be minimizing the energy lost with each step (a very engineer way of looking at it, my former careers both playing a role here!). The “energy” I’m talking about comes from our bodies working AND from efficient storage and release of ground reaction forces. 

The energy lost is the energy we can’t use to move forward and usually means the force is poorly distributed across your joints, likely contributing to pain and other symptoms. Pain and performance are very much connected and often inversely proportional in this way.

I break the stance phase into 3 main pieces or actions - load, stabilize, propel - and they are all connected!

We need good loading so that we can accept and store those ground reaction forces (energy) and get into a solid midstance We need to stay strong and stable through mid-stance so that we can transfer that energy and use it for propulsion. We need good propulsion to efficiently move forward and swing that leg through for good landing/loading.

 Click the image to read more about Running Mechanics 

This is exactly what we do with the strength training in the Women’s Running Academy using:

  • A 12 week progressive and intentional strength training program created to help you meet the demands of running.
  • 2 Full body workouts per week, approx. 45 minutes long with full written and video cuing for each exercise.
  • Video-guided, multipoint self-assessment to help understand the specific needs of your specific body
  • Weekly educational modules so that you can use that understanding to optimize your strength training with a targeted strategy.

4 - Respect your humanness.

You are not a robot, your training does not exist in a vacuum. Social, emotional, and physiological factors also play a major role!

You and your humanness are at the center of the Women's Running Academy with:

  • Weekly breathing exercises that progress over time to optimize your movement mechanics, oxygen efficiency, stress resilience and recovery.
  • Three group coaching calls to help solidify your application of the concepts, ask questions, and receive feedback from me. Think of this as an opportunity for 1-on-1 coaching within a group setting while also learning from the questions others ask.
  • A full library of bonus materials to support you as a whole athlete and human including training with your menstrual cycle, more specific pelvic floor education, breathing for performance, and recordings of guest lessons on nutrition, stress resiliency, advocacy for women in athletics and more.

A recent study on risk for overuse injuries in athletes indicated that athletes “characterized by a combination of high athletic identity, perfectionistic concerns and negative life stress and poor coach-athlete relationship, were found to be significantly more often affected by overuse injuries (74% of the time).” AKA the Key to  Running Injury Prevention is to take it slow when Returning and give yourself grace!

High athletic identity 

When your self-worth is wrapped up in your sport, ego can take over pushing you to do too much too soon and ignore the warning signs of potential injury until it’s too late.

Perfectionistic concerns 

Again that ego, the need to do it all and do it right now can create a habit of over-training. Having a quality support system to be fully vulnerable in is huge.

Negative life stress 

Stress on the body comes from many places, not just your training. Compounding stresses from life can lower your ability to recover from training. This means you may need to progress more slowly when life hands you big stresses!

AND you can intentionally train that stress resiliency using your breath as we do in the Women’s Running Academy.

Poor coach/athlete relationship 

(or in my opinion lack of coaching or support in general)  - If you have a coach, but don’t feel supported enough to report pain or be allowed to listen to your body and problem-solve, it can lead to small problems becoming much bigger problems. If you don’t have a coach or support at all, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. The study actually showed that good coaching can out way all the above other factors and help make injury “less probable.”

What does this mean when it comes to getting back into running?

Set big goals and go for it, 100%, but also recognize and plan for the time it takes to get there and set yourself up for success in the process with some very intentionally progressed programming keeping YOUR mind, body, life, and goals in mind!

The Women’s Running Academy is created with ALL of this in mind to support you in that!

Click here to join the waitlist for the next round!

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