Potential Injuries – But don’t be deterred!
Joint damage isn’t uncommon.
Our joints, especially in our lower bodies absorb massive amounts of force when we move and do so more when we run. It’s the ankle and knee joints that bear the brunt of this impact and these joints especially can become damaged when they’re overloaded. Make sure you train in shoes made for long-distance running and that they give your joints extra support. Many athletic shoe stores will guide you towards finding the right shoe for your gait. Avoid over-striding when you run and make sure you add variation – take breaks from hard-surface running and add weights exercises, swimming or cross-country training to your programme; this will give your joints a bit of a break!
Stress fractures can happen but here’s how to minimise risk.
This is one injury many long-distance runners will be wary of. Stress fractures occur when our bones are under a constant degree of force: consistent use of and pressure on certain bones or joints means a weakening occurs and small fractures can form. Due to their typical size and position, stress fractures can sometimes take longer than a full break to heal leaving runners out of action for long periods. To avoid risk, do your best to introduce transitions (e.g. treadmill to concrete running) and higher-intensity exercise slowly; give your body time to adjust to more activity and different surfaces. Continually check your running form and equipment (shoes!) and make sure you’re maintaining good levels of calcium & Vitamin D.
A fancy term meaning damage or injury to a tendon, this type of injury is known more commonly by terms like ‘tennis elbow’ or ‘runner’s knee’. Tendinopathies generally occur due to repetitive activity or can result from an existing injury. What you’ll typically feel is pain in a given area, accompanied by swelling and impaired function of the tendon(s). Again, making sure you have good running equipment, continually checking your form and keeping your exercise varied will help to reduce the likelihood of tendinopathy. If your body submits to this kind of injury, typically you’ll need to stop or limit exercise and complete a round of physiotherapy to address in weakness and rebuild strength.
Whatever you do, don’t let the potential of injury stop you from launching your long-distance running career! Make sure you consult professionals for guidance on running safely and listen to your body – more often than not it will give you signs of stress before an injury occurs.