If you’ve just taken up running, you’re more likely to injure yourself than the seasoned veteran who churns out thousands of kilometres every year. It’s been suggested that many runners experience some form of injury within the first eight weeks of doing their new activity and a lot of those newbies who are seeking out a Kingsland physio in Auckland end up at our clinic; to try and minimise the chances of that happening to you, we want to share some advice.
If you are new to running, ease into it. Give your body 48 hours between runs during the first four weeks. To stay active on your “off days” you can do lower impact exercises like swimming, cycling, or strength training. This is a good rule to follow because you are exposing your body to stress and strain that it isn’t used to and injuries can easily occur if you overdo it. “Runners knee” is one of the most common injuries we treat, along with shin splints, foot pain, Achilles tendinosis, and even stress fractures. This is why you should gradually increase your running volume by no more than 10% every week.
To be even more gentle on your body, those first few runs can be broken up into run/walk intervals. For example, 60 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking for 20 to 30 minutes is a good way to do it for the first week or so..
Consider doing some other forms of exercise that will reduce the chances of injury, while improving your running performance at the same time. Strength training and Pilates are two that we recommend as they’ll give you the strong hips and trunk muscles you’ll need to maintain an excellent posture while you run, and prevent injury. Two or three strength training sessions a week, based on whole-body ground-based exercises including squats, lunges, deadlifts and step ups will be a great complement to your running. Having said that, ease into these things like you do with your running and pay attention to technique before increasing your intensity.
Last, but by no means least, is to invest in the best running shoes you can afford. Instead of buying off the shelf, have your shoes properly fitted out at a shop that specialises in athletic footwear. Many of the lower limb injuries we treat at our Kingsland physio clinic are due to people wearing the wrong shoes. They have often paid high prices for them but because they’re off the shelf, they rarely fit as well as they need to.
If one word sums up this advice, it’s this one: patience. Ease into your running and get through those injury-prone weeks when you’re more likely to do some damage to yourself. But please make sure you ease into it with the right shoes on your feet!