Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have picked up running as a sport to maintain good health. Whilst it is a highly recommended action to take, we also noticed an increased number of lower limb injuries because of running. So here are some tips to help you prevent any lower limb injuries when running:
1. Start with a proper warm-up
Warm-up exercises are important! A proper warm-up raises your heart rate and gets your blood circulation going. A common misconception that people have is to stretch before running, and that is incorrect. Before you start running, do some active movements such as forward or lateral leg swings, forward and backward lunges, and supported squats. A short jog on the spot for a minute before the start of the run would be good too!
2. Wear proper shoes
Proper running shoes will help you a long way in preventing running injuries. But the question is, how do I know which shoes are good for me? The general rule is to always make sure you wear running shoes that fit well and are designed for your foot type and running style. Technology advancements have led to the creation of running shoes designed to enhance performance; however, remember that it does not necessarily mean those shoes are suitable for everyone!
3. Increase your mileage gradually
A sudden increase in activity often leads to common lower limb overuse injuries. Therefore, you should avoid increasing your running mileage too quickly. Gradually increasing your mileage by 10 to 15% per week would be ideal. Take note that increasing your speed or frequency of training is also increasing your intensity of activity!
4. Cross-training with other exercises
An effective way to reduce muscle overuse and prevent running injuries is to incorporate other forms of exercise. Try cross-training with activities such as swimming, cycling, or strength training. The muscular demands for each activity are different, therefore it gives your muscles a break to recover!
5. Listen to your body
The most common reply that we hear from patients is “it used to be just a little bit of pain, but I thought it will go away”. And the pain did not go away, it became worse with continuous training. If you feel pain or discomfort while running, stop and take a break. A mild strain such as a hamstrings strain can take between 2 to 4 weeks to recover with rest. Ignoring pain can lead to more serious injuries.
6. Get sufficient rest
Our body has a limit to stress and beyond it, injuries occur. Making sure you give your body enough time to rest and recover between runs is an important step to prevent running injuries. This means taking at least one or two rest days per week, getting enough sleep, and considering recovery treatments such as massage or trigger point release.
7. Seek help from professionals
Mild lower limb injuries would often recover within a few weeks. If the pain or discomfort you are experiencing is not showing signs of getting better despite sufficient rest, consult with a sports podiatrist (meet our team of Podiatrists). If the problem is beyond the lower limbs, consult with a sports medicine doctor!
If you enjoy our content, do check back regularly to learn more about lower limb health and valuable tips! Check out our conditions page if you want to know more about a particular lower limb condition!