Physio: Ramping up your running increases injury risk

The classic mistake is doing too much too soon…The second potential cause for injury is technique.

This is the time of year where a lot of you are starting to ramp up your training for triathlons and running races. It has been shown that as many as 80 per cent of runners sustain a running-related injury in a given year. So what are the reasons for so many running injuries and how can they be avoided?

Training schedule, running technique and tissue strength/tolerance are three major determinants as to whether or not you will be sidelined with an injury this season.  Firstly, let’s talk about your training schedule—the classic mistake is doing too much too soon. It is believed that as much as 80 per cent of running injuries occur because of training errors. An easy to follow guideline is the 10 per cent rule: Avoid increasing your running mileage more than 10 per cent from the previous week.

The second potential cause for injury is technique. Poor or inefficient running technique can result in too much impact too quickly (vertical loading rate) as you land. A high vertical loading rate can be caused by any of all of the following: heel striking with your foot too far in front of your hips (over-striding), a lack of bend in your knee or hip during landing, a lack of strength in core/hip musculature to help absorb impact.  Instead, gradual increased training in a flatter/minimalist shoe (to reduce heel striking), increasing step cadence to approximately 180 steps per minute, and aiming to land softer or ‘quieter’ are all ways of reducing tissue overload.

The third reason for injury is core and hip muscle weakness.  It has been shown that a lack of gluteal muscle strength can lead to increased stress on the knee and foot, resulting in a greater chance of tissue breakdown. Taking part in a consistent individualized strengthening program throughout the year can be a key component to avoiding injury.

Remember, don’t wait until minor aches and pains turn into significant injury. Every runner is different so book an appointment with your physiotherapist to determine how best to avoid injury this season.