As runners we are all too familiar with the comments of non-runners. “Running is bad for you; it causes you to get early arthritis in your joints, etc, etc, etc”. I am fortunately in a field where I can use my own professional experience to squash those unsubstantiated comments. In my 15 years of experience, I have seen far more computer related, stress related and other sport related injuries than running injuries. And I specialise in running injuries. So, no, running isn’t any worse for you than any other sport or activity, especially if you follow some basic training and injury prevention principles.
And that is the “small print”!
IF YOU FOLLOW SOME BASIC TRAINING AND INJURY PREVENTION PRINCIPLES!
Our bodies are amazing machines! Imagine having a car that serviced its self continuously as you used it. The oil drained itself, and was replaced with clean fresh oil; the tyres retread themselves in areas of increased wear; shock absorbers kept tightening when getting soft; and all you had to do was refuel the car and drive it consistently. Wow, amazing, not possible!
But, that is exactly what our bodies do! If you gradually increase strain and stress on a certain area in the body, the body increases the strength and resilience of that area. A tendon which is gradually loaded over a period of time will increase its ability to withstand the load. Cartilage gradually loaded over time, in a certain direction, will also be able to withstand more load in the same direction. Muscles loaded strengthen, balance tested, improves. The bodies’ ability to adapt is incredible.
But, back to the small print. Basic training principles of gradual progression help the body to be able to withstand increased forces on it. Gradually increasing your running distance, intensity or load, gradually strengthens your tissues and helps to resist injury. But there is a very critical balance.
Pushing over, or past, this balancing point causes an imbalance in load. This imbalance very quickly causes a weakening of tissue, weakening results in damage and before you know it, you are 1 run too far or too fast and have caused a niggle. With this niggle comes all the associated compensatory patterns.
The compensation is the bodies’ way of trying to protect you from further damage, and it might work. But, then you are feeling fine again, but you are running differently. Not noticeably so, but in the body millimetres make a difference. And now, all those structures that you had built up so nicely, are being loaded differently. And another niggle results.
And so the cycle goes on, compensation, imbalance, increased load, niggle, compensation, etc. Until eventually, you get to “that” injury that stops you running! And sends you to the therapist.
So how do we stop this all happening? Easy, by following some basic principles to be discussed in upcoming blogs:
- Gradual Progressive training
- Periodisation and Recovery
- Early problem detection and it’s correct management
- Keep the body guessing (variability and cross training)
- Staying in balance
Stay tuned for the next blog, happy training!