Attention new runners! How to avoid injury and enhance performance

For the novice runner, there are countless benefits to incorporating running into your fitness routine. Improved cardiovascular function, muscle strength, bone density, mood and cognition are all proven benefits of a regular running program.

One of the best parts of running is that there are no major barriers to getting started. It doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment, and you can run anywhere or anytime to fit your schedule.

But what is the main obstacle to novice runners getting started on their journey?

Injury is the by far the biggest limiting factor when it comes to new runners getting started. For some people, the countless stories of knee pain and pulled muscles has instilled enough fear to cut their running career short or prevent it from starting off in the first place.

The good news is that are steps to be taken to ensure you’re starting out on the right foot and avoiding any running related injuries. There is a lot of information out there on how to gradually build your running capacity- like Couch to 5K- to help your body adapt to the new task and load. But whilst this is a useful training technique, one of the neglected essentials for new runners is strength training.

Running requires more than just running?

Despite the many benefits on the surface, running is high impact and involves a lot more than just being physically fit. There are some common misconceptions on training styles and how to best enhance performance. Strength training is more often than not the missing ingredient in the program of runners. It is also commonly neglected in patients presenting with running related pain and injury.

In the past, many have believed that strength training will bulk you up too much, make you less flexible, and may even slow you down. There is no doubt that running requires cardiovascular conditioning, but we shouldn’t ignore how the rest of the body is biomechanically involved.

To put it simply, running is a series of little jumps. The rear leg has to propel the body forward, the stride leg has to absorb force. The key to both of these is strength training.  

How does strength training help me as a runner?

Through strength training, we can build tissue capacity to handle these forces much more efficiently, especially if we build a specific strength training program for runners with these two concepts in mind. Secondly, being a well-balanced runner and developing strength in your legs and core and hips is the key to avoiding the compensatory movements that cause various injuries for runners.

It is recommended that runners have two sessions per week where they are working on muscle groups involved with stability for running, and to tackle any tightness that might accumulate. After all, tightness is just weakness manifesting. Strength training sessions are a chance to strengthen and/or stabilise anything you might feel as weak or vulnerable and build resilience in your muscles and bones so you can keep racking up those km’s without hinderance. 

Don’t know how to get started? At Thrive Physio Plus we offer Physio-Supervised Exercise classes that incorporates a combination of functional strength training and mobility work. A 1:1 assessment prior to commencing allows us to target your weak areas and implement a plan to improve them to make you a stronger and more efficient runner.

If you’re uncertain about areas you need to improve, or want to find out the best way to get started on your running journey, we highly recommend visiting a Physiotherapist for an assessment prior to getting started.

Kickstart your running journey today by booking in here or call the clinic on 8490 0777.