City Physiotherapy considers what happens when you run too much and how to prevent injuries
Runners are predisposed to overuse injuries due to the repetitive nature of this sport. You are more likely to get an overuse injury when the load you put on your body outweighs what your body can handle. Imagine that you are attempting to bend a pencil. If you apply a little bit of force, the pencil bends, however if you keep attempting to bend it, eventually it will snap as the force through the pencil outweighs what the pencil can withstand. The same concept applies for your body. If your biomechanics and muscle control are not 100% our body can only reach a certain point before you will get an overuse injury.
The most common overuse injuries to runners are stress fractures to the bone, shin splints, the ITB friction syndrome (Ilio-tibial band), wear and tear on your joints and cartilage and patella (knee cap) tracking issues.
Why does this happen?
Most commonly the reason this occurs is that runners just keep running, running, running all year long! Don’t stop reading here. It’s because runners don’t usually train in seasons like other sports such as AFL, Netball, Soccer, Basketball, Hockey, Cricket… Team sports have seasons so players work on their fitness in pre-season, play hard for the duration of the sport season, they then have at least 6 weeks completely off this sport to allow their body to recover – overall there is less risk of getting an overuse injury.
Here are three simple tips for preventing overuse injuries
- Plan your yearly running cycle
This will be your overall plan for the entire year. Develop your own running ‘seasons’ for yourself. Plan different exercise such as Pilates so you have periods in the year where you are not running. For example run throughout winter to get yourself ready for the Corporate Cup or the City to Bay fun run. This way you will load different parts of your body at various times of the year, so no one body structure or part gets overloaded or injured.
- Plan your weekly running cycle
This is your weekly plan. If you are an average office worker you should run no more than 3 times in the week, with each run being spread throughout the week and not on consecutive days. These 3 runs should be varied within the week. One run being a shorter, faster run. This is where you can add in your sprints and hill runs. Then add another run at a medium length and moderate intensity. The third run should be a longer, slower paced run (how long will depend on what you are actually training for).
- Stick to the 10% rule
You should only increase your training by a maximum of 10% each week. When you are just getting back into running, resist the temptation to start running every day. Instead start with 2 shorter running sessions per week and build up your training slowly.
Happy Running from City Physiotherapy Adelaide.