Running is one of the most popular athletic activities in America. Look out your window any time of the day or night and you will see your neighbors running by. As a secondary, training activity, running is also paramount. All baseball, football, basketball and hockey players run as part of their training for their primary sport.
The popularity of running has only increased with the 2011 release of Christopher best seller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Through extensive primary and secondary research, makes the point that human beings were formed for running, and running for a long time. His observations of a primitive, Mexican tribe capable of full days of uninterrupted running, convinced him that modern man is also capable of running long distances and of doing so without injury.
Injured by Running
If you know a few runners, you almost certainly know runners who have had Running injury. Almost 80% of runners are injured each year in America. Running hip problems, running knee injuries, running neck pain, running shoulder pain; if it can hurt, runners have injured it. If running is so natural to human beings, why do so many get injured each year and why is it so difficult to recover from these injuries?
Head of the National Running Institute of Harvard University has some ideas about that. She argues that, though we may have been specifically designed to be able to run, it is likely that our primitive ancestors could run more easily and with fewer injuries because of environmental differences. No modern Americans hunt by running in pursuit of game every day; most have nearly sedentary jobs or/and spend in excess of eight hours of each day sitting still. No primitive man wore high heels, stood for hours holding a strap on the way to work, or spent entire weeks resting on a beach. Our environment is very different from the gifted, natural runners who came before us.
The Myth of the Natural Runner
Unfortunately for many injured runners, a myth has circulated among Americans that because we were born to run, running must come naturally to us. Many people extrapolate from this that even if they have not taken any physical exercise for years, they can get up one day and run a mile or ten. Additionally, many people have the impression that however their bodies move as they naturally run is the correct way. They somehow feel that there is no proper form to running; anyway you move your legs, place your feet, hold your torso and pump your arms is as good and any other way.
Perhaps the book, Born to Run, fueled this misconception. Born or not born to run, modern Americans who work in offices, cook in restaurants, run businesses or sell shoes, do not naturally know how to run. This is particularly ironic in America where we spend millions of dollars a year on tennis, fencing, swimming, dancing and many, many other types of lessons. Somehow, most of us don’t think we need any kind of running coaching; and that is how many of us end up injured.
Training to Run
A key way to avoid injury as a runner is to make injury avoidance a priority. The first step to this is understanding that running is a demanding physical activity for which you must prepare. We don’t all need to take identical approaches to preparing, but some steps we all need to include to avoid injury are:
Equipment: What do you need to begin a rigorous program of running? Those track shoes you have not worn in years are not a good choice; neither are your worn-out tennis shoes. You need well-made, supportive shoes with intact soles. Take advice on this purchase from articles, experts and sales professionals.
Start slowly: Again, look for expert advice. The world is filled with successful apps. instructions books, online videos and manuals designed to take you from inactivity to marathon. Getting out there one day and running a few miles without a minute of preparation is a recipe for long-term injury.
Don’t overdo: This is essential. Maybe your neighbor wants a running buddy and recruits you on your second day of training; maybe there’s a five k in your town to support a worthy cause a week after you begin; maybe your child runs miles and miles easily every day and you feel you should just be able to step out and join him. Don’t do any of these things; don’t overdo.
Never run through pain: Does your heel hurt? Stop running. Sore knees? Stop running. Legs feel really heavy? Stop running. Running neck pain? Stop running. You risk injury with every step you take in pain.
Consistent Training vs. Over Training
To avoid runners hip, runners knee, and runners everything else, avoid two common running mistakes: be consistent and do not over train.
Consistent training means running in gradual increments at consistent intervals. You may run three times a week or six, but keep to that schedule while starting your program. If you get sick and have to take a week off, start again at a lower level of training, rather than at the point at which you were injured.
Avoid the temptation to over train. Feeling good today? Run the three miles you are supposed to run rather than the six you want to run. Running with your son? Run with him for three miles and cut out, leaving him to run another three if he wants. Many, many runners injury themselves by running too much. Avoiding injury is much easier and less complicated than recovering from injury.
Overview of Preventive Techniques
Here are some frequently overlooked preventive care tips that you can follow to avoid injury:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Every part of you needs water when you are running.
Don’t overuse shoes: Replace your shoes often, every 400 miles or so, and when they show any ware.
Stretch before after and as need while you are running.
Diversify your workouts: Add weight training, cross training and core training to your routine; the better overall shape you are in, the lower your chances of injury.
Embrace recovery techniques: Learn how to use ice, heat, message and the entire panoply of recovery systems out there.
If you have persistent pain that does not go away with rest, see a medical professional.
We may have been born to run, but most of us don’t run in a way that keeps us from running hip, shoulder, knee, ankle, neck and even shoulder injuries. However, we are in good luck. Science has designed many ways of improving running technique including machines that analyze your stride, arm placement, hip alignment, foot strike and every other detail of your run. Armed with this information and a good coach, you can correct your technique so you can run without pain.
Is the price tag for the high tech machine analysis too rich for your blood? Hire a coach, even for a little while, just to teach you the basics of correct running posture. It could save you a great deal in physical therapy and cortisone shots.
Running in Modern Society
Modern Americas do not have the lifetime of training our ancestors had that may have made them natural runners. In spite of that disadvantage, we call all learn to run, but we have to do so with judgement. If we take a slow, intelligent to starting a running program, we can run without pain. If we neglect all of our body’s signals, run in spite of pain and run without consideration of our less than optimal conditioning, we will have injuries and pain and may need years to recovery from these mistakes.
to the Client: The scan says 93% but the flagged phrases are references to the book and author mentioned in the original article and I can’t omit them and still keep the sense of the blog.
Good luck running injury free!!!