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How to best avoid injuries for amateur runners

Do you know someone that has recently joined the cult that is running?

You know the type – brand new shoes, top of the line earphones, and their biggest concern is whether they should be logging their runs on Strava or Nike Run Club. If you don’t know someone like this, then it’s probably you. 

What you may also have realised then, is that a large portion of these new runners will be forced to stop just as they’re hitting their stride… no pun intended. And just like that, the shoes start gathering some dust, and the apps are taking up precious iPhone storage.   

Why do we run???

Now let’s make one thing clear, running is fantastic for your body and your mind, and unfortunately there are many misconceptions about it that simple aren’t true *cough cough… “running is terrible for your knees”… cough cough* 

The physical and psychological benefits are endless. So, whilst your friends might love the idea of you taking a step back, this article is all about explaining WHY amateur runners are so prone to injuries, and HOW to prevent it from happening. 

More specifically, this article is referring to running related injuries that build up over a number of runs, or maybe become more noticeable over the course of a few weeks, and they seemingly have no real cause or trauma. 

If there are 2 things you take from this article, I hope that you gain a basic understanding of the following ideas, and how important their relationship is. This information alone could be the difference between you reaching your running goals, and you feeling like you constantly keep hitting injury roadblocks.

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Load Capacity / Tissue Tolerance

These terms effectively have the same meaning. Basically, it is how much load or force that your body/tissue is used to taking, or has the capacity to take. If you are about to go for your first run in 5 years, it is important to understand that your tissue tolerance is low and must be gradually built up. Alternatively, if you are a more experienced runner that has been at it for years, naturally your load capacity or tissue tolerance is going to be higher.

Training Load

Put in simple terms, this means how much work/training you are doing. If somebody is running 15 kilometres per week, broke up into 3x 5km runs, this is their training load. One must be careful when interpreting this information. Just because you have been running 15 kilometres per week, doesn’t mean you should go and try doing that same distance in just 1 run, as your body is not used to this, and it is a big jump.

But what do these terms have to do with injuries?

It is simple, if your training load is exceeding your tissue tolerance, you are on a one-way trip to a running injury. This deficit in load and tolerance is known as a training load error, and they are the cause of more than 90% of running injuries.

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How to increase your training load without exceeding your tissue tolerance?

Whilst simply increasing your running distance by tiny increments at a time is a good start, it is unfortunately not the only piece of the puzzle. The good news is, there are 2 simple words that can not only speed up the process and get you where you want to be faster (again, no pun intended), but they will actually improve your performance more than you could’ve imagined. Those 2 words are…

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Resistance Training 

Yes, building the strength of your muscles and their tissues will in fact improve your running performance. This doesn’t mean hitting the gym every day and lifting the heaviest weights you can. It could be as simple as isolating a muscle group that is lagging behind and performing 1 or 2 basic exercises at home to help them catch up.

So....what now?

Does any of this sound relevant to you? If so, get down to your local physiotherapist ASAP!

A physiotherapist can help you by…

  • Perform a thorough assessment of your body and identify what areas may need strengthening 
  • Provide you with thorough education on your injury, or how to avoid future injuries
  • Identify a training load error, and work with you to adjust your running and training habits to ensure this doesn’t happen again 
  • Set you up on a simple and specific program tailored to you

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