Coach Culpepper: 3 Simple Tips for Staying Healthy
Avoid running-related injuries with these three helpful tips.
It would be easy to conclude that running-related injuries such as tendinitis, knee and hip discomfort, and foot problems are unavoidable and should be expected, but there’s much more to it. Running puts your body under a unique type of stress. Take charge of your injury prevention by paying closer attention to these three aspects of training.
Prehab not Rehab
Ultimately, the only way to avoid injury is to work toward preventing them in the first place. This starts with developing a routine that promotes functional strength and overall muscle health. Most injuries are the result of muscles not recovering well enough to support the stress being put on them, which is why athletes most often get hurt when increasing training volume too quickly. As muscles fatigue, they become tighter and less responsive. As their responsiveness diminishes, the tendons take over to help provide protection from the force being applied.
Simple tip: Emphasize cross-training and post-workout recovery to reduce the risk of injuries.
There are differing opinions on stretching and its importance for runners, but I can say with full conviction that stretching is the easiest and most effective way to prevent injuries and decrease recovery time. Stretching should not be thought of as a means to becoming more flexible or even adding more range of motion—it should be purely focused on recovery and overall muscle health. A loose muscle is a healthy muscle. Stretching alone will not prevent injuries but it will help alleviate 90 percent of the most common ones.
Simple tip: Spend 10 to 15 minutes stretching after every run (especially harder efforts) to accentuate your recovery.
There are tons of new hydration products on the market such as sports drinks, electrolyte replacements, hydration belts and even bottled water. This is good because hydration is another easy and effective means of injury prevention. Most people underestimate the value of hydration and the correlation to muscle health. Hydration takes place at the cellular level and therefore is directly associated with the responsiveness and tightness of a particular muscle group. As you develop a proper hydration routine, you will be able to recognize your intake requirements more intuitively and your body will respond more efficiently.
Simple tip: Drink water regularly throughout the day as well as right before a run to make sure you’re not dehydrated before working out.