Like most runners, from time to time we pick up injuries. Over the years these have ranged from minor niggles to significant muscle ruptures requiring surgery. Fortunately, major injuries are few and far between. However, the niggles can become a permanent feature, or turn into something more serious if you don’t take appropriate injury prevention measures.

Before we discuss these measures, it is important to point out that we are not doctors or physiotherapists, so if you believe that you have an injury you should consider seeking appropriate medical advice.

Don’t Run While Injured

The first thing to think about before embarking on a run, is whether you are already injured and is running again simply going to aggravate the injury more. First-hand experience tells us it’s better to miss one run rather than risk being laid up for longer!

Injury Prevention – Warm Up Properly

The next thing is to make sure you have warmed up properly. For us, this involves 10 minutes of dynamic stretches e.g. side straddles, heel flicks, high knees, walking lunges etc. We will often run the first mile very slowly as well – if it’s a hill start we don’t have any choice!

If you start to feel a strain or muscle pain during the run itself you should always be prepared to abandon the run and head back to the start point by the quickest route. This is particularly important if you’re on your own, or if the weather is bad.

Post Run Recovery

After the run, grab your post run recovery fuel, which for us is a bottle of water and a banana, then start your static stretches whilst refuelling. We focus on stretching the following areas; calves and achilles, hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, as well as upper body stretches on torso and shoulders. Hold the stretch for approx. 15 seconds.

There are lots of scientific papers on the benefits of post exercise static stretching, the main one being the reduction of muscle soreness after the run. You may have heard of this referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. This can occur between 24 and 72 hours after the exercise, so any steps you can take to help reduce this feeling are well worth it.

We will often head out for a recovery run on the day after a long trail run. This is usually on the road so we can guarantee it will be flat, it should be at a very easy pace and we never go over 5 miles.

Foam Rollers and Massage Devices

If you have muscle soreness and are masochistic, you should consider investing in a torture device known as a foam roller. Rolling for 30 seconds on the affected area can be beneficial. Of course there are also many other devices designed to massage and treat different different trigger points ranging from under £10 to £100+. Physiotherapists tend to use massaging ‘peanuts’ and other such tools including the massage gun displayed below.

INJURY PREVENTION DEVICES

A Popular Choice is the Massage Gun

You only have to look at how many reviews this professional massage gun has on Amazon to see just how many people have used it. Many members of our running club rate these devices for targeted muscle treatment. With 10 adjustable speed levels, the 24W high-torque motor strokes 1400 to 3200 times per minute and reaches the tissue as deep as 12mm to increase blood flow and thus relieve muscle soreness and stiffness better. The 6 replaceable massage heads mean you can work on different muscle groups, and target specific area for fast recovery. 

R-I-C-E

As we said at the start we are not medically trained and you should always contact an expert if you feel your injury warrants it. However, if you feel your injury is minor or you are waiting for an appointment, you can consider taking the following steps:

REST – stop the activity

ICE – 15 mins on the affected area every 3 hours, don’t apply ice directly to skin, a bag of frozen peas is perfect

COMPRESS – apply an elastic or tubular bandage, but remove before you go to bed

ELEVATE – raise and support, use a cushion and aim for ‘toes above nose’

Injury prevention is so important for runners. If, like us, you are forced to take time out, it’s not nice, especially if you are training for a specific event or you are going well. As part of your trail training you should spend time on the warm ups, cool downs and stretches and take rest days to risk overtraining.

 

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