Injuries are no joke - they can set you behind in your training and mentally break you down. So we took some time to sit down with Dr. Jelen, a chiropractic physician with a specialization in sports medicine. He walked us through some of the most common causes of injury and offered some tips on how to avoid them.
Lack of Stretching & Properly Warming Up
We’ve heard it before – you have a limited amount of time to get your workout in, and you don’t want to waste any of it stretching or warming up. But what if we told you that by not stretching and warming up, you are significantly increasing the chance of injuring yourself? Taking just five minutes can prime your body, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your overall performance.
Before a run, pick a song and get in a variety of quad stretches – change the angle of your knee and hip to target different areas. There are technically four individual muscles as part of the quadriceps (hence - quad!), so changing the angle will make sure you target all parts of each of the four muscles. Once you’ve loosened up, start walking at a light pace, slowly increasing to a relaxed jog, and then settling into your desired pace. Going out too strong, too fast can put you at higher risk for injury.
Lack of Self Care
You’ve done the pre-workout stretching and warming up, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s imperative to continue that self-care post-workout and on your off days. This could consist of foam rolling at home, using a trigger point ball or golf ball to roll out your fascia, or going to see a specialist for soft tissue release. Give yourself 15 minutes a day if you’re taking the at-home route. Make sure it doesn’t get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list by getting it done when you first wake up or right before bed. Work from home? Set a daily alarm to take a break and roll out.
Lack of Cross-Training
As a runner, you may ask yourself, “Why do I need to lift weights?” However, many runners experience knee pain, which can often be traced back to Dead Butt Syndrome. You may laugh and think we made that up, but it’s more common than you think. Dead Butt Syndrome refers to being “quad-dominant” and having inactive glutes. This is exacerbated by sitting all day at work, even if you run multiple days a week. Certain lifts (think squats and deadlifts) can help activate your glutes to ensure the posterior chain is strong and ready to fire when you need it on race day.
Lack of Range of Motion
Another key culprit to injury, also related to Dead Butt Syndrome, is limited hip flexibility. Sitting shortens the hip flexors, and running requires your hip flexors to lengthen and bear the load of your body weight. Your hip flexors attach to your spine, so if they lack range of motion, they’ll also pull your spine forward which can lead to pelvic and low back pain. Avoid chronic tightness in this area by increasing your range of motion through foam rolling and work towards standing for at least 15 minutes every hour.
Lack of Letting Yourself Rest
We hear you; once you get hurt, you want to get back into it as soon as possible. But doing too much too soon can often cause more damage than taking a break. Slowly bring workouts back into your routine at a modified pace. As you start to get stronger, you can start upping your mileage and speed.
Rest isn’t just for the injured though; healthy people need it too. Running is a lot of pressure on the joints, and your body needs sufficient breaks to recover. When incorporating a new workout or movement, your body will also need extra time before you can target that muscle again.