For those fair weather runners out there, this means that it is time to break out your running shoes and start putting in some kilometers.
It is important when you have had an extended period of time off of running that you take a few precautionary steps to prevent running injuries. Most commonly we see repetitive strain/overuse injuries as people ramp up their distance too quickly. If you keep in shape over the winter by participating in other activities, your cardiovascular system is most likely able to transition to long-distance running quickly. That does not mean however that the rest of your musculoskeletal system is ready to go.
Depending on how you run, a lot of strain is placed on your feet, calves, knees, and hips when you run. If this load is not increased gradually then overuse injuries may occur. The difficult part of this is that these injuries will often present themselves much later – weeks to months after you have returned to running – as your Healthy Body breaks down and becomes unable to handle the load. By then people will often not attribute their injuries to their increase in running distance. To prevent this, following the age-old philosophy of increasing running distance by no more than 10% per week is helpful. This will allow your Healthy Body to adapt and recover enough to keep increasing your distance.
Additionally, running frequency is important to maintain tissue adaptation. Running smaller distances more frequently can be a very helpful tool to prevent overuse injuries. Running four to six times per week will allow your tissues to maintain the adaptations and decrease the likelihood of injury. These do not all have to be long runs. Adding variety to your distance, your route and terrain create the variability your Healthy Body needs to prevent overuse injuries. Even if you increase your distance gradually and run frequently, injuries may still occur.
There are other things you can do over the winter to ensure your Healthy Body is prepared for spring running. Preparing your calves and feet in early spring by doing heel drops and skipping can build up your calf and plantar fascia’s ability to handle the load that running will present. Building up to 3×40 heels drops twice a day and three minutes of skipping daily prior to starting your spring running can help your Healthy Body transition more successfully to running. These are just a few of the many suggestions we at ProActive Rehab can offer you to help you run injury free.