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Summer is upon us and the running season is in full swing. Did you know that more than 50% of runners will get injured during their running season? The most common injuries include shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome and stress fractures. These injuries can be due to various factors such as a poor running technique or poorly fitting shoes. Although these injuries have mostly multifactorial causes, experts agree that the main cause is over-training, that is to say that we do too much, too quickly. Too many times, too much intensity or for too long, which causes a physiological stress higher than the tolerance of the body, and consequently, an injury. Here are 5 tips to prevent this from happening to you this summer!
Often, you may feel able to run longer, push harder, or train for several days in a row. It is very possible that your cardiorespiratory endurance will allow you to do so, but if your joints, tendons, muscles and bones are not used to the repeated impact of running, it will most likely result in an injury. So, if a pain appears, reduce your speed and rest for a few days or practice an alternative activity such as cycling or swimming. Running with pain is never a good idea. Even if you don’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean that you should run longer. In general, it is recommended that you don’t increase your running mileage by more than 10% per week. This means that if you ran 45 minutes last week, to avoid injury, you should not run more than 50 minutes this week… Also, your longest run should be, at the most, 1/3 of your total mileage for the week. So if your longest run of the week is 10 km, you should have accumulated at least 20 km of running during the rest of the week. Finally, also work progressively to increase the intensity of your workouts. As a general rule, about 80% of your workouts should be done at low to moderate intensity and only 20% should be done at a high intensity.
Know that recovery is an integral part of training. Training creates micro-tears to the muscles and tissues. If you give your body time to repair itself, it will create adaptations that will make you stronger and more efficient. On the other hand, if you break your body faster than it can repair itself, it will have the opposite effect and you will become hurt and exhausted. So, do not feel guilty about taking days off, because these days are just as important as your workout days.
If you feel pain or muscle tension, don’t ignore it! Make it a habit to do stretching sessions every week. It would also be very helpful to equip yourself with a foam roller and a small ball to eliminate muscle tension and soreness and to help prevent injuries.
Having a good running technique is important to reduce the impact on your joints when hitting the ground and to run more efficiently. It is recommended to run with a light step, to take small steps and adopt a pace of about 180 steps per minute (three steps per second), regardless of the speed of the run.
Do not try to follow your colleague or neighbor! Make sure that your running program is adapted to your current level. Keep in mind that what you were able to do last summer or two years ago does not necessarily match your current fitness level. Do not hesitate to consult a kinesiologist or a qualified trainer to obtain a personalized training program just for you.