There are a few injuries that are quite common among runners. Most are called “overuse” injuries that occur due to repeated stress put on a certain area of the body. These pains are common in the shin, knee, and foot. The challenge we have as runners is that when we begin feeling more severe pain, it is often too late to easily correct. These injuries can take us out for weeks at a time. In order to over come some of these overuse injuries, you will need to implement an adequate amount of injury prevention into your training. Trying some of these techniques can help you stay healthy, and allow you to train more consistently and at a higher level:
Shin strengthening: The most common two reasons we get shin pain is because our calve muscles are too tight which creates stress on our shins, and too much pressure on the bone itself creating potential stress fractures in the shin. It is a good idea to incorporate some easy duck walking 3-5 days a week into your routine. This is simply done by pointing your toes up in the air, and walking on the tips of your heels for about 3×20 meters. This will strengthen shin muscles, and completed with a decent amount of calve stretching, will balance the muscles in your shin and calve, postponing major shin pain. Another useful tip is to run as much as possible on soft surfaces and making sure you are using the appropriate shoes for your training (keep track of the mileage on your shoes too, replacing shoes every 300-400 miles will ensure optimum performance from the shoe).
Rolling Out: Have you ever seen someone rolling his or her legs on a foam roller before or after a race? This routine may seem silly to some, but it critical in helping massage and stretch out various parts of the leg and back. The most common use for these rollers is along the outer thigh. Rolling out this region will loosen up your IT band, which runs from your hip on through to your knee. If you don’t stretch, over time, your IT band will tighten like a rubber band, and create a sharp pain on your knee as you run. Also rolling out the Achilles can help reduce the chances of getting Achilles tendonitis (tendonitis is just inflammation of a tendon).
Rolling out regularly, conducting shin-strengthening drills are only a couple ways to prevent overuse injuries. Remember that the limit to our training is determined by how much we can recover. Good Luck out there!
Living the Run is thrilled to publish Marty Kinsey’s Weekly Blog, “Running With Coach Kinsey!” Coach Kinsey is the head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams at St. Mary’s College (Division 1) in Moraga, California. View his full bio via our bloggers bio page. You can look for Running With Coach Kinsey every Thursday.
Men’s and Women’s Head Coach
Cross Country Coach
Saint Mary’s College