With just over a month to go until the London Marathon on 24th April I thought I would write about niggles and injuries as it is a common time for them to appear. For endurance sports like long distance running an injury caused by trauma such as an accident is relatively rare. Endurance injuries are normally caused by over training or under training or not taking care of the body effectively in the lead up to an event. Here are my top 5 causes of running injuries and how to minimise the risks.
1. Over training - unrealistic goals
Stick to your training programme but also notice if your body is getting noticeably more tired or whether you are starting to get little niggles. One of the most common ways to sustain an injury from endurance sports is over training. A good way to keep a check on whether your body is coping with the volume of training is to take regular massage treatment. A massage therapist can identify micro trauma in the muscles and help break down any scar tissue or knots that could turn into injuries. Building a relationship with a therapist that comes to understand your body is not a luxury it is an important part of your training.
2. Under training - unrealistic goals
Again stick to your training programme. Progressively increasing your distance for an event like the marathon is essential to achieving your goal of competing and/or completing! Shocking the body with an excessively long distance without the proper build up is incredibly risky. If you have taken time out of your training programme seek advice from a trainer or coach about how best to build back up to the distance safely.
3. Warming up and warming down
It seems glaringly obvious but warm ups are essential to any activity or sport and not doing them can cause injury. Make sure you have a good warm up routine that you learn from a coach or trainer that is bespoke to you. I usually do my running warm ups in the house so I am really warm when I begin my run. Make sure you take the time to stretch and cool down effectively too. I personally find this challenging as all I want to do is eat and shower when I get home from a long run. However, 5-10 minutes of stretching and mobilisation can make all the difference.
4. Improper maintenance training
Maintenance training is an essential part of endurance sports. Strength training helps maintain the integrity of ligaments, tendons and connective tissue as well as training the strength components of muscle. Core and corrective training helps maintain good posture and alignment especially when you become tired during long runs. It also helps to maintain balance in the body. In running certain muscles are stressed more than others. Corrective training helps stretch what gets tight and strengthens what gets weak to minimise the risk of injury.
5. Nutrition and lifestyle factors
Endurance sports are fuelled by food. Eating the correct ratio of macro-nutrients and gaining the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals are essential to minimising injury risk. It is also very important to get enough sleep, drink enough water and take enough rest and recreation time with friends and family. It is common in the lead up to an event like the Marathon that you socialise a bit less, drink less alcohol and have earlier nights.
If you are training for the London Marathon best of luck to you! I'll be cheering all the participants from St James Park this year.