Getting to the start line uninjured: avoiding injury before your next race
As you start to plan your training programme for upcoming events, it’s common to push too hard, too fast. After all, you’re feeling motivated, you may as well get straight into things, right?
We see a lot of patients who are unfortunately facing injuries like knee pain (runner’s knee is common), hip pain, stress fractures or tendon pain, that are now holding back their training before their event.
Then we also have cases like Kelsi, our own Practice Manager here at Refine Health in Newmarket and Remuera. Kelsi decided to tackle a 50km ultramarathon on minimal training. We admire her ambition and guts, but a bit more preparation could have prevented her from facing longer-term injury and recovery.
Kelsi got to around the 36km mark of her run when the discomfort set in. She was no longer able to straighten her leg and run comfortably. The following day, she was more concerned about the blister on her foot, and it wasn’t long before she was back trying to run. She thought a few niggles and discomfort was pretty normal for someone who had just done an ultramarathon without much prep.
But when she mentioned it to Stu, our Managing Director, he decided it was worth a look. It was now four months after her original injury, and it turned out Kelsi had five tears in her hip flexors, one in her glutes as well as bursitis. Instead of being able to focus on training for her next event, she was facing a slow, frustrating and uncomfortable rehabilitation.
The thing is, what Kelsi, and so many of our patients, didn’t remember, is the importance of balancing fitness training with good strength training, too. Understanding progressive load management strategies can help you avoid injuries, rather than putting your body under sudden and unrealistic exercise expectations.
If you’re looking ahead and mapping out a training programme for your event, incorporating strength and conditioning training twice a week will help support a stable and strong gait as you build up your fitness and endurance.
Check your running gait
In our Newmarket physio clinic, we offer run assessments. Within these sessions, we’ll analyse your run technique, and also provide you with drills to improve your running and strength exercises specific to you. It’s designed to not only help you optimise your running efficiency, but also highlight and help correct biomechanic abnormalities and prevent future injuries.
Integrate strength exercises
While a personal programme is best, some exercises to strengthen your muscles for running that you can start to include yourself are:
Squats / jump squats
Single leg deadlifts
Pre- and post-exercise stretching
Stretching also shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should be an integrated part of your programme. Flexibility and mobility are important parts of avoiding injury. Regularly using a foam roller can also help release the tight fascia.
So, have patience with your preparation, or face being a patient with your recovery, you choose! While we’re here to help you heal and recover, we’d prefer to help you focus on injury prevention in the first place. Take the time to focus on building up strength and resilience before you hit the running track, and complement your running programme with a balance of strength training as your fitness continues to progress.
A year later, Kelsi is now back in training mode – for a half Ironman no less! The right rehab programme got her back to exercising pain-free, but a sound training programme should help ensure she gets to that start line without any niggles holding her back.
If you’re planning out your event season, come in and see us. As well as our run assessment, we have nutrition, podiatry and massage available in our Newmarket and Remuera physiotherapy clinics (hit the link to make an appointment at the clinic most convenient for you).