Avoid marathon injuries - Women's Running

Avoid marathon injuries

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  January 26, 2016

Woman Stretching Her Legs Before Workout

Increasing your mileage as you prepare for a marathon can often mean an increased injury risk and there is a chance that you may get injured. Knowing what the risks are and what you can do to prevent injury could make all the difference between completing your marathon pain-free and having to pull out at the last minute.

When running longer distances there is a higher risk of injuries that come from overloading and stressing tissue compared to short distances where there is more trauma injuries such as muscle strains. For example, overuse injuries such as stress fractures and tendonopathies occur more frequently in longer running routines while hamstring, thigh and calf tears occur more frequently with shorter, faster runs.

Physiotherapist Stuart Mailer advises taking these six simple steps to help prevent the risk of injury.

  1. Build up gradually. Get a specific training plan for your level of fitness, experience and the distance you will be running so you don’t try to do too much too soon.
  1. Rest. Take the appropriate rest periods between runs as this will not just reduce injury occurrence but will help you to run better. Never do hard sessions on consecutive days. A hard run should be followed by an easy recovery run.
  1. Listen to your body. For example, if you are tired, or feel tender then have an extra day of rest. An extra day of rest won’t hinder your progress but can help you improve further in the long run.
  1. Warm up and cool down properly. Warming up and cooling down properly is essential to reducing the risk of injury. Stretch, use ice baths after hard sessions, massage when you feel tight and foam roll.
  1. Cross-train. The amount of runs we have to do depends on many factors such as existing fitness levels, previous injuries, age, time until the race/event and the overall goal. For example, some runners will complete two to three runs per week with one long run and one or two short runs and will be able to complete their desired distance. Others such as more elite runners will run four to six times per week as their goal is different. For significant changes and improvement, it is recommended that you perform three cardiovascular sessions per week to improve aerobic fitness, but if you are prone to injury or are experiencing tenderness in certain muscles employed when running, try two runs and one cross-training session such as swimming, cycling or using the cross-trainer.
  1. Strengthen weak muscles. Incorporating strength work into your training is vital to preventing injury. A range of injuries can be caused by weakness in certain muscles. For example, weak glutes (bottom) can cause knee injuries such as ITB syndrome as you will have less pelvis and hip control. Hamstring weaknesseses can cause Achilles and hamstring tendon issues, while poor balance may affect ankles and knees. Reduced core strength can affect hips and knees and physios often see loss of pelvis stability with weaker core.

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