Injury Prevention

In follow up to the high mileage post, I wanted to post some things I have used to help keep me injury free during high mileage training.

Some people are just lucky and have the biomechanics and body type that don’t get easily injured, others not so much. 

My poor husband has had every running injury in the book (Achilles tendonitis, a stress fracture, Haglund’s deformity, and the list goes on), yet I have managed to *knock on wood* stay relatively injury free during my almost 3 years of running.  I have dealt with some occasional pains and aches here and there and have had to skip some runs and take a bit of time off, but nothing that was serious enough to keep me from running for a long period of time.

I also take a lot precautions to make sure I am not doing anything stupid to get myself injured. 

What are they? 

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Ice

I have to admit, I have not been as good of an icer lately as I have been in the past, maybe it’s a winter thing?

Note to self: get out the ice bucket.
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Usually my rule is to ice bucket my lower legs/feet/ankles (those are the areas I typically get aches and pains in, if I feel a pain, I ice it like crazy!) after a hard run and to take a full on ice bath after a long run.  It’s been a while since I have done a full ice bath, but I was really good about it when training for CIM and past marathon.  I need to get back on it especially when my long runs and miles really pick up! 

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Stretching & Rolling

I have always been a pretty good stretcher and roller (love the grid foam roller), it’s something I do after almost every run but is something I have been trying to be better at.  I always do both when I feel any weird spots and have my target areas I try to work on every day.  

In order to become better at this, I have been going into our home gym after runs to spend some time to really stretch out my legs.  When I am sitting on the couch I try to remind myself to just get on the floor and roll my legs out for a few minutes… something is always better than nothing! 

I always think it’s funny how runners can be so lazy about certain things… waking up at 4am to run intervals? No problem!  Getting off the couch to roll out your legs for 5 minutes?  Ugg that’s way too much effort.  Trust me, I know this from experience. 

Run slow

I have said this before, but recovery runs need to be done slow.  Running too fast all the time definitely will lead to injury.  I have been much better at this the last couple weeks and have slowed my recovery runs down.  If you are going to run a lot of miles on back to back days, some of them need to be slow. 

There is no shame in going slower!  Enjoy those runs and don’t worry about the pace.

Increase conservatively

Don’t start from 20-30 miles a week as a base and jump into 50+ miles the next week.  The 10% rule is a pretty good standard to follow and I try to watch my mileage increases and stay pretty close to that number. 

Now that I have gone through a number of training cycles, I know what my body can handle and have a pretty good grip on how I should feel and what is normal.  I was able to make a pretty big jump to start my Boston training, but I also had been running that kind of mileage for over a year. 

Typically though, especially if it’s not the "norm" for you, don’t jump your miles by a ton.  Being conservative is better than being injured.

ART/Chiropractor

My new favorite… Active Release Technique and chiropractic adjustments. 

This is something I just discovered during my last training cycle and I had been missing out.  ART has really helped with my muscles and alignment and just making me feel good and really helps to work out any problem areas I have in my muscles.  It does not feel good during, it has almost made me cry, but after I always feel better.

I also try to get occasional massages to help with all of the above.  Thankfully my chiropractor has an awesome massage and my insurance covers it! 

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Rest

I rest on my rest days and make sure I get enough sleep.  I don’t take shame in laying on the couch to relax when necessary (although having a 100+ lb lab on top of me might not be the best thing for my legs).  Your body recovers while asleep so getting enough is key to keeping yourself healthy.

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Fuel Well

Put bad things in your body, it will give you bad things in return.  Feed your body good fuel and it will give you good results.

I am not a perfect eater, but especially during training I really try to eat well and have worked on cleaning up my diet over the last year.  There is always room for improvement and it is still getting better over time, but I can always tell a difference when I eat good foods versus not good ones. 

(I have a highly requested food post coming up next week!)      

Listen to your body

Your body will tell you things, make sure you listen.  If you need an extra rest day, take one.  If you need to go slow on a day you are supposed to go fast, go slow.  Be nice to your body and it will be nice back.

What steps do you take to avoid injury?

I am off to stretch and roll!

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48 Responses to Injury Prevention

  1. Matt @ The Kitchen of a Runner January 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    We have the same foam roller! TriggerPoint is the bomb ;)

    • Aron January 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      YESSSS that one is the best! I should link my review :) thanks for the reminder!

      • Ron January 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

        The Grid is a pretty good roller, but I ended up replacing mine with a RumbleRoller (rumbleroller.com), which gets even deeper into the muscle.

  2. Christine January 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I know now stretching is the key…. unfortunately I had to learn it the hard way. I “enjoy” my weekly visits at the chiropractor (he is still working on my hips), but at the same time I can tell him any type of uncomfortably feeling. He checks it out and I feel safe, knowing all is taken care off :)

  3. the dawn January 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    i’m totally one of those runners! 5am wake up? i’m ON it! stretch and roll it out while watching tv? not on your life!

    these are all so great! love your list. and its super impressive that you have been able to stay so injury free. amazing! thanks for all the tips.

  4. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad January 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    I’ve been incorporating yoga into this training cycle. I’ve never been injured but I worry about it so I figure I should take some preventative measures :)

  5. sarah January 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    I love ART- it hurts in a good way! I wonder if you’ve considered using a heartrate monitor to stay in an easy zone on recovery runs…

    • Aron January 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

      I don’t have one and my garmin doesn’t work with one BUT maybe I can borrow the husbands :) good idea.

  6. Laura January 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    This is a great post Aron! Listening to my body is something I’m trying to do a better job of. I’m realizing it takes a lot of time and experience to hear all the subtle things it has to say. Great job staying injury free through all your running! That’s a truly remarkable feat!

  7. Christina January 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Thanks for this informative post!
    You were spot on with that waking up at 4 a.m. to run vs. taking 5 minutes to stretch/roll thing. :)

  8. Jen January 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Ice bath during the winter?!? You’ve got way more cajones than I do! I have to fight myself to take ice baths in the summer.

  9. Sonja January 21, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Thanks for this post! Great advice!

  10. Jesse N. January 21, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    Great tips! I’ve found that every single injury I’ve had is a result of doing too much too soon. I’m learning my limits though, and have been injury free for awhile.
    As another commenter mentioned, I always run with a heart rate monitor. On recovery days, it’s the only way I can keep myself running slow enough.

  11. J January 21, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Great tips Aron! I find it extremely hard to ice in the winter because my legs are already freezing from the run, but I know I should. I always foam roll and stretch while watching tv – its almost like multitasking!

  12. Keri January 21, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    Great post, this is something I need to work on. I am trying to increase my mileage because I have always thrived on more speed less miles, and I want to try adding some more miles in but am afraid to get hurt. You have quite a collection of foam rollers!

  13. Karyn January 21, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    Good tips. Unfortunately I, like, never take any precautions. Knock on wood that I stay injury free!

  14. Laura January 21, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    I don’t call it running slower…I call it running deliberately.
    Our coach is very adamant about us not ‘racing’ too much…we can really only pick max 2 events where we are actually going to race in as opposed to just doing it as a training run. If you are constantly racing, it is easy to get injured and burned out.

  15. Emily January 21, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    You definitely could have hyperlinked to me under “others not so much.” When (not if, when) I make it out to Cali for a marathon, your hubby and I will have to have an injury bitch session! I think I’m going to print out this post and hang it on my refrigerator.

  16. Shutupandrun January 21, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Well, you know the boat I am in. Looking at your list – I’ve done all of these but two crucial ones: I didn’t listen to my body as much as I should have and I didn’t run slow. Even tho I did everything else “right” these two were biggies and put me where I am now (running in the pool). Great post!!

  17. Vava January 21, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    I wish I could find that Grid foam roller here in Canada. Nobody sells it that I know of and I think that’s crazy…

    Anyway, I’ve only done a couple of ice baths and found them very helpful, but clearly I need to make that more of a habit. And I totally identify with your other points (keeping recovery runs slow, watching your mileage, listening to your body, eating well).

    The only other thing I have done that has helped me tremendously is weight training. Having suffered through more than a year of runner’s knee and even longer with plantar fasciitis I can tell you that weight training was the only thing that cured both. The best exercise? Deep Squats, Leg Extensions (be careful!), Single Leg Deadlifts, Lunges, and copious amounts of Abductor and Adductor strengthening to get those hips and glutes strong. Add to that tonnes to core and abdominal work and throw in a bit of upper body and you’re good to go.

    • Aron January 21, 2011 at 7:42 am #

      Excellent tip!! And one I need to get on as well.

  18. Jerri January 21, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    How long do you stay in that ice bath??????

    • Aron January 21, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      At least 10 minutes :) I have some tricks though, will have to post about ice baths!

  19. Kristen January 21, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    I don’t foam roll nearly enough…I should get on that.
    I’m one of those people who gets injured easily, so I’m not really one to give advice, just to take it :)

    The thought of an ice bath when it is already -20 outside, however, is just unbearable. I wonder if I can bring myself to do it. Maybe an ice bucket is a way to make it more manageable!

    • Aron January 21, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      Maybe you should just sit in the snow for a few minutes ;)

      • Jerri January 21, 2011 at 7:52 am #

        I thought of that too haha! It’s -24 here

        • Aron January 21, 2011 at 8:03 am #

          OMG you guys, I have no idea how to even fathom what that feels like! BRRRRRRRRR

  20. Michelle January 21, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    This is such a great post! I don’t do any of this nearly enough (or at all) and I think as I up my mileage this year it’s going to become necessary. The thought of an ice bath really freaks me out as I am super sensitive to the cold, but I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal.

    It sounds like you definitely stretch before you run. For how long? I’ve heard pros and cons to both. I try not to overstretch, but then I think maybe I could have stretched more.

    • Aron January 21, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      Nope not before, after. If you do stretch before I have been told dynamic stretches are the best (leg swings, stretches where you are moving and not static). Sometimes if muscles are tight I will stretch mid run but that’s after I have warmed up.

  21. Page January 21, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Does that book come with photos of the recipes? I’m weird and only like cookbooks with pretty pictures ;) Interested to hear how those recipes end up…

  22. Jess January 21, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    I’m curious where you find our ART practitioner. I’ve been looking in the DC area and haven’t had much luck. Should I be looking for chiropractors who practice ART, or just chiropractors or something else all together?

  23. Jess January 21, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Thsoe are all good prevention tricks!

  24. Denise January 21, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    i’m not so good listening to my body but i do pretty much everything else you listed. altho, over the summer when things with the achilles hit a certain point, i finally listened.

  25. Nitmos January 21, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I follow ll of those rules though I still don’t ice bathe. Can’t stand it. Rather deal with cripplling cramping that lasts a few hours.

    Regarding your husband, he falls with one of my favorite life maxims: “If you have to have a deformity, Haglund’s is the one to have!”

  26. Nelly January 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    All of your tips here are awesome! I pretty much follow most of them – the 10% rule, icing, foam roller, stretching, etc. I’ve been blessed that I basically have avoided a serious injury ever since I started running at age 13. The only injury that I can remember that I got from running is minor shin splints in high school maybe.

    I think the most important rule to not getting injured is to increase your weekly mileage according to the 10% rule. And generally its good to follow the rule of increasing mileage 2 weeks, then to drop back down a week, then to go back up 2 weeks. That way you are not always increasing every week. I think this can lead to injury if you aren’t careful.

    Good luck with the high mileage, sounds like you can handle a lot of miles without getting injured!

  27. Nicole January 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Love all your tips! :)

  28. Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef January 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    great advice! i so need to ice more often. in the past 4 yrs since college (o my gosh has it been that long???) i have been SO BAD about icing. :(

  29. Amber Kuiper January 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks for all the great tips! I’ve never tried an ice bath, but it sounds like something I should do after my long runs!

  30. That Pink Girl January 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Great tips! When I discovered ART it changed my training! So much work but I really credit that with being a big part of my recovery from injury! (and keeping me healthy!)

  31. Rachel January 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    great! i can’t tell you how much i could identify when you pointed out how lazy we runners can be when it comes to rolling! that’s totally me : / great tips!

  32. Mica January 23, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Hmm, I’m actually really bad about stretching and icing. I rarely do either! It’s too cold for me to do ice baths right now. And I’m just lazy about stretching. Fortunately, I have managed to stay relatively injury-free. Maybe I just run slowly…

  33. The Laminator January 23, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    Good post Aron! Injury prevention is always important in a runner’s life.
    How about compression? I think that has got to count in terms of injury prevention and recovery too.

  34. onelittletrigirl January 24, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    I think some people just aren’t made for distance. I worry that I am one of them. I am trying for the third year to train for the marathon and figure if it doesn’t happen, I have to let it go. every year I am injured and as I am sure Chris understands, the frustration is beyond imaginable.

  35. Marlene January 25, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    What a funny bunch we are – never too lazy for a cold/dark/hard run but too lazy for a few minutes to stretch and roll. I am sooo guilty of this and need to get back into a good routine now that I’m training again.

    Just the THOUGHT of an ice bath right now is making me shiver. I just can’t do it in the winter!

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