Repetitive strain injuries are the most common type of injury in running. The nature of running is repetitive involving a similar footstrike pattern over time and distance. This repetitive strain to the musculoskeletal system can increase the risk of injury over time and distance.
So how can you reduce the risk of repetitive injury? Variation is the biological norm and mixing up your running can introduce variables which break up the pattern of repetitive strain by varying the forces going through the body with each foot strike. Here are 5 easy things you can do to mix things up a bit.
- Run on different surfaces. Try running off road, starting with easy foot paths and park trails. The variation in the surface will help to vary loads through the foot and ankle with each foot strike.
- Vary your pace. Rather than running at the same pace for the whole run, try putting in some short bursts of speed work with recovery, or try some Fartlek intervals. Over a longer run, try walking to conserve energy and increase endurance.
- Wear different running shoes. Research indicates that different running shoes load the foot in different ways, even if they are the same type, so having more shoes is good news!
- Try different routes. It’s good to have regular routes to measure your progress over a given distance but varying your route or even running it in the opposite direction adds variety and keeps things interesting.
- Introduce some cross training. Different activities, such as weight training, cycling or swimming have an aerobic benefit but stress different muscle groups or reduce impact forces, allowing you to increase your strength and aerobic fitness without overstraining your running muscles.
Of course the nature of running puts the body through stresses that can potentially lead to injury, but mixing up your training along with a good training plan that avoids overuse is the best way to reduce the risk ot those niggling injuries.