The hard truth is that no matter how you prepare, an injury is always possible. Following my systematic approach to training for a race will certainly limit your liability, but there is no way to completely get rid of the risk.
How Do Injuries Occur?
If you do not follow a systematic approach to growing your endurance, your body will rebel. Rebelling can come in several forms:
Muscle strain or tear
Ligament sprain or tear
Bone stress fractures
All of these injuries above occur when there is structural imbalance that becomes magnified with an increased number of steps you take per day.
If you put 10 lbs more on the right side of your body because of a misalignment or imbalance, taking 100 steps per day, you are putting a total of 1,000 more pounds on that side daily. If you are taking 10,000 steps per day training, that translates into 100,000 more pounds on that side each day. What do you think happens as you increase your mileage and time walking or running? Your imbalances become magnified. Extra stress is put on that foot, ankle, knee, hip and associated muscles.
So having a balanced structure is imperative when training. As a result of balance you will be more efficient when you run. Your body will wear in a more balanced fashion and you have less of a chance for an injury.
How to Know If You Are At Risk
The wear pattern of your shoes can give you clues to your structural imbalance. Do you wear out your shoes on the back outside heel, inside heel or the center? Do you wear out the sole on the outside or inside of the shoe? Do you only wear out the ball of the shoe and not the heel or the heel and not the sole? If you bring your running shoes to your sports oriented healthcare practitioner, they can use this information to help you solve some of your structural imbalance problems to keep you training and healthy.
What Are The Most Common Injuries From Running?
Foot pain- plantar fascitis or a stress fracture
Calf pain/ ankle pain/Lower leg pain - muscle pull, sprained ankle and shin splints
Knee pain- tendonitis and/or alignment,meniscus issues
Hip pain - Tensa fasciae lata (TFL) syndrome or
Lower back pain - subluxation, sciatic neuritis or disc involvement
Do You Have A Running Injury? Take This Simple Test!
The best way I have found to determine if my pain is an injury or growing pains comes down to a self test. When you are working out does the pain you are having remain the same, get worse or get better? I have been out on a long run and felt a pop or a pull in my calf which resulted in serious pain. At that point I shut down the run and start to walk in a relaxed easy fashion to see if the pain will subside. If the pain improves with walking, after 1-5 minutes, I will try to rev up again. If the pain does not let up after 5 minutes, I shut it down for the day. If the pain starts up and a then lessens as I ease off the pace, I continue to run. If the pain builds as I rev up and is bearable, I continue on my run. If the pain stays the same and begins to get worse in anyway, I shut it down for the day. If it is so bad that it feels like it is damaging as I walk I will call to be picked up. Either way, when I get home, it is time for some self care.