Whether you’re a recreational jogger or a competitive athlete training to join a marathon, it’s imperative to ensure your safety especially since running injuries have an overall incidence rate of somewhere between 37-56% on a yearly basis.
That’s pretty alarming considering that more and more people are turning to this physical activity to relieve their stress and stay fit. Interestingly, one study also concluded that running is in fact, integral to human evolution. Does that mean getting hurt is part of the process? Are injuries inevitable when you run?
Running has numerous health benefits and on the plus side, it’s also fun and rewarding. Incorporating some of the following safety measures can help reduce your risk for injuries.
What are the most common running injuries?
Runner’s knee. Caused by overuse, the kneecap wears away the cartilage under it, causing pain and tenderness above or below the kneecap. Home management for “runner’s knee” includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). You can also take anti-inflammatory medications.
Achilles tendinitis. Due to overuse and degeneration, the Achilles tendon can become inflamed and irritated. Going for an intense run without warming up is also a factor that can contribute to the development of this condition. You can wear an Achilles tendon brace with adjustable compression for tendon support and pain relief.
Plantar fasciitis. This refers to the inflammation of your plantar fascia or the thick, flat band of connective tissue that joins your toes and your heel bone (calcaneus) together. This condition is characterized by a sharp pain when walking or running.
Shin splints. This refers to the pain along your shin bone and is mainly caused by overuse. The condition can get worse if you don’t manage it properly with rest and doctor-recommended stretching exercises.
Stress fracture. This is a tiny crack in your bone which often develops when you suddenly increase the intensity of your running or your mileage. Pain worsens over time but can be relieved by rest.
Ankle sprain. This common injury can occur when you’re running on rough terrain and accidentally twist your foot, leading to stretched or torn ankle ligaments.
What are some safety measures you can follow?
Go slowly and increase your distance gradually by around 10% each week. Remember that most injuries are caused by overuse and increasing your mileage suddenly could put you at risk of injuries.
Make it a habit to warm-up and cool-down each time you run to make your muscles and tendons more flexible and properly conditioned.
Ensure that your footwear provides adequate support and cushion. If you’re buying a new pair, purchase them in the late afternoon when your feet are at their biggest size.
Running up and down a hill or on rough terrain can put additional stress on your muscles and ligaments. Because there might be stones, loose gravel or other debris, you’re also more likely to twist your ankle. Although you can still run on uneven and rougher surfaces, it pays to be more careful and to not run too fast on unfamiliar grounds.
Don’t push it. It may be challenging to step up your game but your body, even if you’re already a professional athlete, has its limits. Listen to its cues and when you’re starting to feel the strain and pain, it’s best not to continue.
If you’re on the road, run towards the direction of incoming vehicles because it’s easier to spot them this way and consequently, evade them if needed. However, as much as you can, avoid any place with heavy traffic.
Wear bright-colored clothing when running at night and don’t forget to bring a headlamp. This is to help you see clearly where you are going and also for drivers and other people to spot you easily.
Most runners like to listen to music to pump them up and keep them motivated. If you’re one of them, keep the volume low enough for you to hear approaching cars or if someone is calling your attention.
Avoid running alone especially at dawn or late at night. Ask a friend to come with you or if not, you can always get a dog to be your running buddy. This is your safety measure against attackers.
Have an ID with you for easy identification in case of an emergency.
Stay alert and don’t zone out. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you especially if you’re running in a new or an unfamiliar route.
Running is a great exercise and an effective means of clearing your head. However, if you’re not careful, you could be at risk of injuries and vulnerable to attacks. Keep these tips in mind to ensure your safety.