Detecting the early warning signs of your running injury

Injured runner holding knee with blog title about running injuries

Rather than having a running injury and learning how to deal with it, let’s focus being preventative. Because the vast majority of running-related injuries are due to training errors, this means they can be prevented! So, I have written down the four most common situations a runner might encounter which will increase their likelihood of injury.

Sudden changes in training load

We can learn a lot from understanding training load verses body capacity. Essentially, an injury will occur if you push your body beyond it’s capacity to adapt. You are likely to fall into this category if you are training for a race too quickly, or returning from an extended time off (off-season training). It is best to progress slowly to allow adaptation to take place. As runners we should forecast what distance we are training for or document our weekly workload and plan accordingly. Fantastic apps like C25K and nike run app have in-built programs to follow and help this process.

graph showing growing trend and running load leading to injury

Sudden changes in shoes or strike pattern

Whether you are in the minimalist shoe camp, the traditional shoe camp or the max support camp, changing your shoe from one type to another has its risks. Venturing from supportive to minimalist will increase the stress on the calf, achilles and foot. On the other hand, heading from minimalist to maximalist can increase hamstring, knee and hip loads. A very similar process is true for changing your running strike pattern. If a runner changes how they interact with the ground, then the demand in certain muscle groups also drastically shifts. Therefore, it is important to consult your health professional or allow a very gradual transition period.

Increased Stress or Decreased Sleep:

These two usually go hand in hand and correlate with decreased tolerance to load. This means without changing a thing in your training, you can still develop an overuse injury. Sometimes stress is unavoidable but recognize these moments in life and adjust your training accordingly. For example, don’t follow-up with an intense training week if you are more stressed than usual, getting less sleep or falling away from a healthy diet.

Worked asleep at desk

Is Morning stiffness predicting your running injury?

Are you feeling strong and springing out of bed? If so, this is a good sign you are tolerating your training loads. Conditions such as early stage tendinopathy, joint arthritis and bony stress reactions will display unusual localized stiffness, soreness or weakness first thing in the morning. This is okay if you have trained hard the day before and wake up with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) however, this shouldn’t exceed 1-2 days. The trend of stiffness every morning that resolves in 30-60 minutes should not be ignored. Draw awareness to these trends.

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