When I started running back in my first year of University, I didn’t really know much about the mechanics of running or how to go about it properly. I honestly thought that all you needed to do was put on any pair of running shoes and go! When I sustained aches and pains, I didn’t really know what to do about them and often just kept running through them without making any changes.
I experienced a few common injuries that most runners encounter at some point: shin splints (ouch!), plantar fasciitis (double ouch!) and a chronic hip flexor strain that would sometimes bring me to my knees. Thank goodness these all didn’t occur at the same time, but they would come and go for several years until I finally decided to get to the root on the problem and educate myself on how to become a better runner…. without all the injuries!
Luckily I was in Chiropractic school when I decided I would take this step towards helping myself. I say luckily because I had access to all the right information from classes, books, extra-curricular seminars and talking to my professors and attending clinicians. (Not to mention, I finally got the specific treatment I needed for my issues which included chiropractic manipulation and soft tissue therapy including Active Release Techniques… one of the reasons why I personally use this technique in my current practice).
Let’s be honest. Information about health always seems to change and new research is always coming out… sometimes it’s hard to keep up! However, there a few key points that I’d like to share with you that I have found to remain consistent through research and from experience, not only from myself, but from working and interacting with runners (and athletes) from all walks of life.
I hope you find this information useful.
Here are three common running myths and facts that will help you become a more efficient, less injured runner:
MYTH #1: Most running injuries that occur are a result of lack of flexibility, faulty biomechanics, muscle weakness, running surfaces or your shoes.
FACT #1: Most running injuries are caused by increasing volume and intensity too soon. Although the aforementioned issues can cause problems, they are not the most common causes relative to doing too much too soon.
- Listen to your body.
- Increase your running volume and intensity gradually (~10%/week).
- Indications that you have done too much too soon:
- Pain during your run/activity.
- Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) lasting more than 24 hours.
- Increased stiffness in the morning.
- Cross training is helpful to keep cardiovascular training up while reducing the mechanical stress on your body (eg. swimming, aqua jogging, biking).
MYTH #2: Stretch before you run.
FACT #2: Research has shown that stretching before you run does not reduce your risk of injury, it may even increase it.
- Stretch after activity when your muscles are warm, or after your warm up.
- Keep your upper body relaxed while running to reduce tension.
MYTH #3: Anti-inflammatories help the injured runner control excessive inflammation and allow them to return back to their activity quickly, without any negative impact on their tissues.
FACT #3: Inflammation is a natural and necessary response to tissue damage from trauma or overuse.
- Anti-inflammatories prevent proper tissue healing, making them more vulnerable.
- Studies have shown prolonged healing time and secondary fragility of bones, as well as muscles and ligaments, following the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.