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Injury prevention tips for runners

21 August 2017

Running is considered a fundamental skill and a critical requirement for almost every sporting activity. However, the complex and repetitive nature of running can make runners prone to overuse injury which we often treat in the physiotherapy department. Whether you’re a competitive or recreational runner you’re highly likely to suffer from injury at some time or other. It is estimated that a staggering 65 to 80% of runners suffer from injury every year! These injuries restrict performance, disrupt training plans, and sometimes cause runners to stop running altogether. We can help you prevent these injuries.

“Prevention is better than cure”

Often running injuries are caused by biomechanical imbalances and muscle dysfunction but can also be caused by overload and training errors. Our specialist sports physiotherapists have some top tips to help avoid this:

  • Functional screening - our physiotherapy department has a functional movement screening service allowing our sports physiotherapists to conduct a full biomechanical analysis of fundamental movements specific to running. This allows us to identify any body imbalances and address these through advice and specific exercises to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance to enable you to keep running.
  • Warm up - be gradual and specific. Try 5-10 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace or by alternating running and walking. 
  • Keep it simple - maintain a comfortable stride, avoid excessive heel striking and lengthening your stride unnecessarily.
  • Aim for mid-foot to fore-foot strike to reduce contact time with the ground.
  • Aim for a cadence of 180 steps per minute - around 3 steps per second.
  • The body will adapt, but make changes gradually - to avoid injury, follow a training programme that gradually builds up intensity (no more than 10% extra per week).
  • Run little and often - aim for around 4 times a week.
  • Cross train - core strengthening exercises such as clinical Pilates, which includes functional hip and knee strengthening, improves running form and helps runners avoid injury.
  • Stay flexible - maintaining and improving flexibility can help avoid injury. Regular foam rolling and stretching is advised.

Hopefully these top tips will not only help you to avoid injury but will also contribute to improving your running performance too!

by Anna Laws, Physiotherapist

 Anna Laws is a specialist MSk physiotherapist at Spire Manchester Hospital.  For more
information or to book an appointment with Anna, please call 0161 447 6900.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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