How to Avoid and Prevent Injury Whilst You Run

Exercise

How to Avoid and Prevent Injury Whilst You Run

The key to successful marathon training is consistency. It requires smart training at the correct intensity and having a personal training plan that has the appropriate training load for your experience, your fitness, and your race target.  If the training is too hard or not specific to the event, or if you try to do too much too soon then there’s a good chance that your body will break down with an illness or injury. That’s why injury prevention for runners goes hand-in-hand with marathon training.

Due to the nature of the training for a marathon, there are times when you’ll have a few pains here or a niggle there, but it’s important that we can tell the difference between a training pain and an injury.

A good way to work out whether you are injured or not is the traffic light system. It’s a simple pain indication method to help the prevention of sports injuries.

woman stretching to help avoid injury before a run

Prevent injury with the traffic light system

Prevention of sports injuries can be simple as long as you listen to your body. If you’re unsure what to look out for, we’ve listed a traffic light system so you can understand how your body feels, and when it’s time to take a break.

Green Light

This is when nothing particularly hurts, you have some fatigue because you have been training hard.  When you go out for a run you may feel a little tired, but any niggles disappear after a shower and a stretch!  That’s perfectly fine and just means that you need to take some extra recovery days and look after yourself.

Mild amber light

If you have a pain in the same area on 3x consecutive runs then the chances are that you are developing or have an injury. If the pain presents itself in the same location and start approximately at same distance into each run, but importantly goes away after your run, then you have a problem. However, if you catch these symptoms early and take a step-back for a few days by not running and instead either switch to some non-impact cross training or take some full rest, then you will soon recover, prevent injury, and be back feeling healthy and running well.

woman stretching at the gym before a work out

So, if you manage any green light symptoms then you won’t arrive in the mild amber zone but if you do get there and take appropriate action, then these situations can be successfully managed in a short period of time.

Full Amber Light

This is where your problems start to become more serious. If you have pain in the same area on 3x consecutive runs, but you not only have it during your run and it also persists for a little while afterwards, then you have an injury. Compared to ‘mild amber’, you have let it progress without taking action and this has caused the problem to develop further. To prevent injuries from further development, you will therefore need to stop running and get some professional help.

Red Light

If you hit the red zone then you’ll find you have pain or soreness before exercise, it takes some loosening off, it then hurts during the exercise and continues afterwards too. In real terms, you would be very unlikely to make the start line of an upcoming race. The injury is very significant and it will take a period of time to get rid of. If you’re at this point you are really injured, you need some professional treatment, and it will likely take you as long to recover and get back running as it did for you to develop the injury in the first place…not good news!

athlete holding ankle in pain after running

Screaming Neon Light

If you thought that it couldn’t get any worse than the ‘red light zone’ then you don’t know about the commitment, determination and denial of the runner!  Some runners just don’t listen, don’t believe what their experiencing and can’t stop running, but if you don’t listen to your body’s warnings and you continue to train through, you’ll find yourself here. If you’re here, you can't walk or run properly. Do not let it get this far!  

Have a smart training plan that’s suitable for you, for your fitness and your running experience.

To prevent injury for runners, be patient, train to the correct intensities for you and look after your nutrition, hydration and recovery, you’ll avoid injury and enjoy your running.

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