Running in itself typically does not cause injuries (unless you trip over something and injure yourself) and yet many runners tend to end up with injuries – foot, ankle, lower leg, knee, thigh, hip, etc. Most of these injuries you experience you refer to as a running injury or an ‘overuse’ injury, which is true to a point. But at the same time, most of these injuries are highly avoidable!
No, I’m not saying 100% of the time these injuries are avoidable, but I am saying a good 90+% of them are. Many reasons exist as to why these are avoidable. The three common issues I see are 1) too much, too soon, 2) lacking muscular endurance, and 3) technique faults.
Too Much, Too Soon
Yes, when we are brand new to running and only running maybe a mile to start, we can get away with some bigger increases in mileage for a period of time. But, once we start to build some distance (10-15 miles/week), increasing mileage greater than 20% per week can set you up for an injury.
Think about it this way. Jumping from 1 mile to 2 miles is not a big amount essentially. Jumping from 15 miles per week to 30 miles per week is a huge jump for the body. Overall, the stress and strain we place on the body when we run is great for the muscles, tendons, and bones, as that is what creates more durability in them, but they need time to adapt to the increased mileage.
Have fun working on your running, adding some distance, but be smart about it!
Lacking Muscular Endurance
Are you in a situation that every time you get to a certain mile point during a run you experience pain somewhere? Anything less than that you are fine but hit that specific number and BOOM! Pain hits!
I often attribute this to a muscular endurance issue, meaning your body maintains good strength and control up to a certain point. After that point, the body is unable to stabilize and control itself as well, causing your running form to change. These running form changes can create inappropriate torque and forces in the body, specifically the legs. When that happens, pain sets in.
This doesn’t mean that you are destined to experience pain over that certain point forever or that you need to give up running. It simply means it would be beneficial for you to spend some time figuring out what breakdown is occurring and address it appropriately.
As mentioned in the previous section, when form breaks down it can create inappropriate torque and forces in the body. Often times, though, running technique faults are an issue from the start, not later on into the run. If you experience pain early on into your run, this is likely what you are dealing with.
Your body will allow these faults for a while, maybe even years, but eventually it will give up and create pain so you can finally address the issues you have been creating in your body. Many times (not always), these issues will show up as you change something in your training – increasing mileage, adding speed work, adding hill training, etc.
There is not necessarily a ‘perfect’ way to run, but there are ‘better’ ways to run. Many running faults create more torque and forces than necessary in the legs. By taking time to discover those faults and correct the faults, you can improve your running technique and therefore reduce the torque and forces through the legs. Reduced torque and forces translate to decreased injuries.