How to prevent and treat running injuries

By Catherine Cole

It’s that time of year again, the snow is melted, sun is shining and many of us are itching to get out for a spring run. As part of my training, I aim for one to two runs per week and am familiar with the joy and sometimes pains of being a runner. I wanted to write about how to prevent and possibly treat running injuries. These tips will benefit everyone, from the beginner runner, to someone who has been running for years. Some common complaints are knee pain, shin splints, plantar faciitis, just to name a few.

Here are my top four tips to prevent running injuries:

1. Follow a plan.

Seems common sense but not all follow this rule of thumb. Download a running plan, or ask your trainer to prepare one for you. Take into account your fitness level and what you are capable of. Don’t go from the couch to 15 km overnight! Your body needs time to adjust to the added stressor of running. Build up your distance gradually. Your body will thank you!

2. Drink lots of H2O

I know, I know. As a trainer, I never stop drilling the importance of water into my clients, but so many still fail to drink enough! On your running days, drink an extra one to two litres of water. This will prevent dehydration from all that extra sweating you will be doing, during and after your run.

3. Warm up and stretch, cool down and stretch.

Start your run with a few minutes of walking followed by a dynamic stretch. Think movement. Walking lunges, leg swings, butt kickers etc. At the end of your run, even though you just want to lay down and relax, take those extra minutes to stretch, especially your quadriceps, hips, hamstrings and calves. Think standing quad stretch, standing calf stretch, standing hamstring stretch and yoga poses, such as a pigeon stretch.

4. Shoes!

Make sure you take the time, money and effort to research what kind of shoe you need. Everyone has a unique gait, step and instep and arch. Go to a reputable running store where they can walk you through the different types of running shoes. Buy a pair and wear them indoors for a couple of days to see how they feel. A pair of shoes that feel great in store can give you blisters or not enough arch support pretty quick during the repetitive movement of a run.

One last bonus suggestion. If you still have some nagging aches and pains, book in with your trainer for either a serious stretching session or with one that is certified in Trigger Point Therapy.

Enjoy these days of running, before you know it the snow and ice will be on the ground again and you’ll be wishing you had utilized this beautiful weather more!

Catherine Cole is a personal trainer at 360 Fitness in Red Deer.