I understand injuries. I also understand injury prevention and, like many of us, can tell you in hindsight that if I had followed my own advice, I would never have injured. When time constraints and tight deadlines hit us, if we are avid runners, we cut out everything else except the run. So, what do we do when running is not enough?
Six Injury Prevention Tools
The biggest bang for our buck is this one thing. Ask any fitness professional. And yet, how many of us have done the self-deprecating brag about not getting enough sleep? “I was sooo busy, I didn’t get to bed until 2am!” I’ve done it. Like we’re super heroes. More like super zeroes. Don’t play the deprivation game.
Moderation. Generally speaking, we think that more is better. If I do something a lot, then I will get better at it. Actually, smart is better. More is just more, and sometimes less. In fact, a good determiner of an athlete’s progress is not how much they can do, but in fact how quickly they can recover from what they do. That makes sense. If we can recover quickly, we can train more. If we exceed training load and need days or a week off, we are now training less and inconsistently. Instead of measuring your progress by load, measure it by rate of recovery.
Lifting Heavy. If you want to get faster, get stronger. From a running perspective, there are four basic exercises that never let you down: Squats, Lunges, Sit-ups, and Push-ups. Anyone can do these anywhere. For a more specialized (and interesting) program, hire a coach or join a boot camp.
Cardio Cross Training.We can build our running fitness without running! It’s true. If we can do other cardio activities that are low impact, we can do high impact running without getting injured. Cycling, swimming, rowing… there are lots of great low impact cardio activities available. Find your fit and do it at least once a week in place of a run. NOT in addition to a run…instead of a run. That’s why cross training works. We don’t train more. We train smarter.
Tendon Care. Muscles take a couple weeks to get stronger; tendons take a couple months. And a broken bone can heal faster than a tendon tear! So, why do we ignore these hard-working elastics holding our muscles and bones together? I think because we just don’t know how important they really are. Buy a foam roller and a lacrosse ball, search YouTube for some great videos or ask a trainer, then put on an episode of Game of Thrones for an exciting evening of suffering both on screen and off.
What about ankles? For trail runners, this zone has been the victim of many sprains and tears. Doing a short and easy run once a week in minimalist footwear, or even a weekly yoga session, will keep your feet smiling even after tripping on a gnarly root.
Fitness Professionals. Paying for someone to fix our bodies is usually a good sign that we have humbly acknowledged our own limits. We’ve used all the tools in our kit and now we’re asking someone with more tools to use their kit. Smart. Fit living hurts so good. Find your support team for the best money you’ll spend on your health: Massage therapist, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Acupuncture… the list is long and awesome. Find your Person and see them as often as you cut your hair.
Six things that can help keep us injury free: The list isn’t that long! There are more things to add, and please add yours. I tried to keep my list to what I’d say are the essentials: If I had done these six things consistently, I would not have injured. If I’m doing them now, I’m not going to injure – unless I do a face plant into a metal door jamb. Spend your time on the things you can control. Let go of what you can’t.