Woman stretching during a run
04.27.18|Posted by Olukayode Faleye

How to avoid injury while training for a running event

Ascenti Physiotherapist and running enthusiast, Olukayode Faleye, shares his top tips on avoiding common injury pitfalls when training for a running event.

Olukayode has been a Physiotherapist for six years and a running enthusiast his whole life, having won medals at several running events from 5k races to half marathons, so he knows better than most about how to train effectively and avoid injuries.

There is no big secret to injury prevention. The key points are having a proper understanding of your body, listening to tips from other runners and knowing when and where to get help in injury prevention and recovery.

I have learnt over the years to keep my running steady, keep the pace, compete against my own timing and increase running distance gradually.

What is the most common complaint or injury that you see in runners?

The most common complaint is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), often referred to a ‘Runner’s knee’. It is characterised by pain around and under the patella (kneecap). Other common complaints include: 

  • Hamstring strain
  • Achilles tendinitis 
  • Patella tendinitis 
  • ITB irritation 
  • Ankle sprains 
  • Stress fractures

All of the above tend to occur as a result of overtraining, poor running technique, inappropriate footwear or poor biomechanical loading. 

These issues can all be managed by your physiotherapist and it’s best to get things looked at as soon as the issue occurs and before you continue training. 

At Ascenti we use soft-tissue and sports physio techniques that can help to offer immediate relief alongside long-term improvement plans. 

What are your three tips for preventing injury? 

1. Increase running mileage gradually by not adding more than 10-15% of your weekly mileage. For example, if your total distance is six miles one week, add on 0.6 (10%) – 0.9 miles (15%) the next week.

2. Do a thorough warm up before running that includes both static and dynamic stretching. These can be easily found online, or by asking your physiotherapist for a bespoke stretching plan to suit your needs. 

3. See a physiotherapist for professional advice. At Ascenti we would talk to you about your goals, consider the biomechanics of how your body works as a whole and your footwear. We also offer deep soft-tissue massage and advice on regular strength and conditioning exercises to ensure your muscles are working at their optimal capacity.

What would your main advice be to a first-time runner training for something like a 10k or half marathon?

Find a pace that is comfortable for you and try to maintain this pace at all times – you should be able to hold a conversation with a friend running beside you when you are within your pace. 

If you are training for a half marathon, take time to focus on shorter distances, such as a 10k. It has been suggested by exercise physiologists that improvements in fitness and performance gained by running 10K carries over into longer distances

Run in a group – it’s more motivational and means you can look out for each other.

Keep setting new realistic goals – both short and long-term. Running a marathon in six months can seem daunting, but a short-term goal of running twice next week may be more achievable. Small steps en route to a bigger goal are the way forward!

Can you give us some advice about what to do if you sustain an injury in the final stages of training? 

During the first three days of an injury your body enters what we call the ‘inflammatory stage’. This stage is often the most painful and needs the correct management, known as PEACE: 

P Protection - Avoid activities and movements that increase pain for the first few days.
E Elevation - Elevate the injured limb higher than the heart as often as possible.
A Avoid taking anti-inflammatory medication as they can reduce tissue healing. Avoid icing for more than 5 minutes.
C Compression - Use a compression bandage or taping to reduce swelling.
E Education - Your body knows best. Avoid unnecessary treatments and medical investigations and let nature play its role.

After this time, and for the next 7-10 days the injury needs LOVE:

L Load - Let pain guide your gradual return to normal activities. Your body will tell you when it’s safe to increase load.
O Optimism - Condition your brain for optimal recovery by being confident and positive.
V Vascularisation - Choose pain-free cardio-vascular/aerobic activities to increase blood flow to repairing tissues.
E Exercise - Restore mobility, strength and balance by adopting an active approach to recovery.

Keen runners will often run through the pain, but this is not always the best thing to do. It is important to speak to your physiotherapist to ensure that you don’t cause any long-term damage. 

What are your top tips for recovery afterwards?

  • Make sure you walk for five minutes after a run, to allow your heart rate to gradually return to its normal rate. 
  • Keep fully hydrated. 
  • Eat a meal rich in carbohydrates whilst your metabolism is still high. This is a great way of restoring energy levels without putting the calories back on! 
  • Use a foam roller to massage out tight muscles. If you’ve had a particularly heavy run a recovery massage with your physiotherapist will work wonders.  

Ascenti is here to answer your questions around running and how physiotherapy can help you to reach your goals. Find out more about our ethos and the treatments we can offer you.

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