Running – Preventing Injury and Improving Performance

At Como Physiotherapy, we see a whole range of runners who suffer different types of injuries. Sometimes these injuries can be prevented, and we also get asked a lot about how to get better. So I thought I would discuss a range of topics related on preventing injury and improving performance.

What’s wrong with my Nike Free Runners?

Everyone has different feet structures and different running needs. That is why it is really important to find a shoe that is suitable to you. Shoe technology has come a long way and it helps to speak to someone who knows the mechanics of a wide range of shoes that will work for you. If you are in the market for a new pair of shoes I would highly recommend going to a shoe store where the workers are runners themselves and allow you to try and run in the shoes they offer you. There is a difference to how shoes feel between walking and running so if they have a treadmill for you to try definitely use it before you make your decision! And most importantly, they better feel damn comfy. It is usually recommended to change over your shoes after using them for ~400km but always check your soles to see if they have been worn out.

If I just run long every day I’ll get that 12km personal best time right?
Most people will just run for distance or until their legs give way. But funnily enough if you want to be able to improve your times and distances you will need to throw in some shorter and faster runs.

Different types of runs include:
Intervals (e.g. Repeated 1km efforts with rest breaks in between)
Fartleks (e.g. 30 seconds hard/90 seconds jog + repeat)
Tempo runs (shorter runs at racing pace)
Long distance runs (meant to be at a slow enough pace so that you can hold a conversation)

It is important to mix things up a bit and there are always wide varieties of the above types of runs so make sure you do your research and pick/modify types of runs that will suit you best.

But I hate running on my own!

A common thing we hear of is that people can’t get motivated to run on a regular basis. This is why I highly recommend participating in a Parkrun. Parkruns are a free, timed 5km event run at 8am every Saturday in various places around the state. The closest Parkruns near Como Physiotherapy are in Claisebrook, Maylands and Burswood Penninsula. All you need to do is register online, print off your barcode (this is what you need to register your times) and turn up to your first event. You only need to register once.

People of all ages participate in the Parkruns, from elite athletes, to parents with prams wanting to go for a gentle stroll. There is no pressure to perform and the volunteers are super motivating! It’s a great event to get a regular 5k walk/jog/run in your running program at your own pace and you may even make some friends along the way. What better way to start your weekend right? Right?!

Once you have gotten used to running with a small group, events like the HBF Run for a Reason or the City to Surf will have a distance suitable for you to try, and raise money for charity at the same time.

My running has been awesome for two weeks now I’m injured, what gives?!
A lot of running injuries involve the tendons in our bodies (e.g. achilles and patella tendons). These guys hate inconsistency, so if you have decided after a five year break to run every day for a month, or you went from running 2km one week then 20km the next there is a good chance that these guys will say “bugger that!” and become injured. It is really important that for anyone starting or changing a running program to gradually increase in volume and intensity and allow your body to have breaks to settle down. A common rule of thumb is to not increase your weekly volume by more than 20%. For example, if you run a total volume of 10km in any given week, the most you should run the next week is 12km.

Does strengthening my body help with running?

Absolutely! There is good evidence that runners will prevent injuries and improve performance by doing two days of strength training per week. Those pesky tendons I was talking about earlier will love having good consistent loading in a controlled environment which will help decrease the risk of getting injured when you do run.

I’ve just read a whole bunch of words and I’m still confused, what should I do???
We don’t just treat people who are injured, we also set-up management plans to help people achieve their goals. If you are thinking of getting into running or want to get more out of your running and are a bit hesitant on what to do, come see one of our Physiotherapists who will design a program just for you and point you in the right direction. Hopefully we can get you running that PB for the City to Surf!

Useful sites:
Running Warehouse


Types of runs

Strength Training and Running

Written by Nick Wrenn
Como Physiotherapy

Nick treats at Como Physiotherapy every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. Come and have a chat with Nick TODAY!

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