Running Injuries: Prevention and Cure – Part 1
Back in 2018, when I joined a new organization and my colleagues came to know that I am a runner. After asking about my running journey the unavoidable topic came up and the whole focus shifted from running to running injuries. I have had this kind of conversation before as well and one thing that I have noticed every time is, people, especially those who do not run, completely overlook the innumerable benefits of running and focus only on few injuries, which, as a matter of fact, can be prevented and cured.
The most common injuries that make it to the top of the list are shin splints, calf pain, knee pain, muscle soreness, stomach ache, ankle pain, etc. In general, they complain about having pain in every joint and every muscle. While all of this is actually true but these can easily be prevented by adopting the correct approach.
This one is going to cover the prevention part of almost all the injuries that one might experience.
There are two kinds of people, one, who is a little active, they do some physical activity in form of any sport, walking, yoga, etc and second, who do not get time to do any of these due to personal and professional commitments. But there comes a day when the latter decides to break the routine and become healthy and more often than not they turn towards Running. They buy running gear, get up in the morning, go out, run, pant, get tired, come back and sleep. More often than not people stop their fitness journey then and there and curse Running for giving them pain. If they are a little motivated, they will bear the pain and continue the same routine for 5 days and then say goodbye to Running. By doing so, they close the door of a whole new world, which can offer them a fit and healthy life along with the company of amazing people.
Prevention from these injuries is only possible if we know what is the reason behind the pain. It is not “Running”, but the sudden unrest in the muscles and joints which were in hibernation for several years.
Our body has become used to being in a comfortable position, in our homes as well as in offices and when we break this comfortable position by doing a little intense physical activity, it creates pain. One thing worth noting here is, a little pain will always be there in our muscles when we ask them to do something different than their daily job (My butt still pains when I do jumping squats).
1) STRETCH PROPERLY: No, this stretching doesn’t mean stretching your legs in L position like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. It means just waking your body muscles up from the slumber. Start with your neck and go all the way down to your toes. A proper sequence can be (aka pre-run workout):
3) START SLOW AND BUILD THE ENDURANCE: Start with slow runs, make your body used to short distances and once you become comfortable with it, then slowly introduce it to long distances. The initial focus must be on building endurance and stamina. Speed and strength can be gained later anytime. We have a lifetime for that (recently Gene Dykes, a 70-year-old man ran a marathon in 2:54:23).
4) HYDRATE YOURSELF WELL: Remember, “Runners don’t “drink” water, they hydrate themselves”. It includes drinking lots and lots of normal water, lemon water, water with honey. Symptoms of not hydrating yourself well include stomach ache during the run, muscle soreness, cramps (these can also happen when you try to run faster than the pace that your body can allow).
6) TAKE PROPER REST: Here we are talking about two kinds of rests. One is taking proper sleep every day and the other is taking one day off running. Sleep is the most underestimated thing. In order to achieve what we want, the first thing we sacrifice is sleep (Probably by watching those motivational videos or movies where the guy wakes up at 4 in the morning and goes for a run, what they don’t show is, the guy is clever, he goes to bed at 9 itself in the night or max at 9:30). So please don’t be too motivated and sacrifice your sleep, take at least 7 hours of sleep every day. Coming to the second type of rest, take one whole day off, no running, no workout. Our body needs time to recover from the daily routine, give it some time.
7) INCLUDE CROSS-TRAINING: The best way to cross-train is by practicing some other sport. It can be swimming(the best), cycling, football, volleyball, kabaddi, badminton or even cricket, it can be any other sport. It will not only break the monotonous daily routine but will also engage those muscles which go untouched during running.
So next time you plan to give up on Running, please give it a second thought and try these preventive measures. Running has a lot to offer, just give it some time and your body will bloom.