How to avoid running injuries

Published: 2012-02-20 07:49:49
Author: Sarah Phillips

 If, like me, you are training for your first marathon, or are one of themany people who have recently taken up running, you will be obsessing about injuries – or rather, how to avoid them. Faced with various aches and pains and with no idea how to address them, I asked a range of experts for their advice.

The physio

Paul Hobrough is a chartered physiotherapist and runsPhysio&Therapy.

"My ethos has always been prehab rather than rehab. Coming in at an early stage is far better than when you are actually injured, but it's not as good as seeing a physio straight away when you decide to run a marathon.

"Mainly what we see are chronic injuries that build up slowly over time. The most common are knee-related: runner's knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and iliotibial band friction syndrome. They are usually down to the fact that people have an ankle instability, or they are not controlling the legs well with their hip muscles.

The second most common is shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome. Then achilles tendinopathies and plantar fasciitis, on the under side of the foot.

"You would struggle to get most people who didn't want to run a marathon to balance for 20 seconds on one leg. They will almost certainly have an instability somewhere. If you get them to do something functionally close to running, such as a single leg squat, you will notice their knees deviating and hips swinging out laterally. These tests show me that this person isn't running 26.2 miles without having a lower leg injury.

My biggest bugbear is when people say they aren't sure that they are going to take up running and use an old pair of running shoes they've had for years. And they get injured and wonder why. It's so important to get that fitting done correctly. There is too much information out at the moment about barefoot running as opposed to supportive shoes. Fundamentally you need to get a good fitting somewhere that is well respected. If you want to take up barefoot running you should ideally have no history of injury, good mechanics and not be an overpronater.

"The minute that you feel a slight niggle, speak to somebody. Because if you're thinking in eight weeks time I would like to enjoy running a marathon, being physically prepared and able to walk the week afterwards, then what are you waiting for? It makes no sense trying to run it off. There is no heroism involved."