While I wish I could tell you that you can avoid injury forever by being proactive and doing everything you can to prevent injury in the first place, the sad news is running injuries will most likely still happen. There are so many variables to injury that it’s impossible to guarantee an injury-free running life. What you can do is incorporate advice and exercises specifically for injury prevention for runners.
That’s where this month’s workout round-up comes in! 🙂 This month we have five awesome workouts and advice on how to prevent running injuries from our group of coaches and running bloggers, Angela, Laura, Nellie and Sarah. (We are missing Allie this month because she had the audacity to go on vacation after her amazing achievement in her first Olympic triathlon.)
New to this series? Here are the past workout round-ups to check out:
INJURY PREVENTION FOR RUNNERS
Cross Train to Your Advantage
If you have a vague idea of elliptical hell when you think of cross training, bear in mind that cross training can actually be a part of your training program that isn’t scheduled, isn’t structured and can be fun! Basically, cross training is whatever you want to do that’s not running. Use it to your advantage to get yourself in a positive headspace – if you hate the elliptical, then don’t use it! You can swim, bike, play tennis, rock climb, go dancing, hike, cycle, or really whatever you enjoy doing. And think about switching up your easy run every week for something a little different. If you are a road runner, maybe try a trail run. If you are a slave to your splits, go for a run naked – without your watch. (It’s very liberating.)
It’s an important part of injury prevention because many running injuries are repetitive stress injuries. When you do the same joint movements over and over with the same stressors, eventually something may give. Cross training gives you different joint movements, stressors and impact, so that you’re less at risk for injury.
Know When to Rest
Knowing when you need to take a rest day rather than push through a run was part of my 50 tips for beginners – but it counts just as much (if not more!) for veteran runners. No one wants to take a rest day if running is their therapy or they’re in the middle of goal race training. But if you’re feeling tired, sluggish or irritable, you my be overtrained. And if you have a nagging pain or uncomfortable feeling every time you run, deal with it by resting! You won’t lose all your fitness and it’s a much better idea to take a few days rest now than weeks or even months if you keep trying to ‘run through’ the pain.
Strength Training is Key
Strength training is key to injury prevention for runners. It will not make you bulky, heavy or slow. Strength training will make you sleek, strong and healthy. Perfect for avoiding injuries and for a potential PR. Check out this post and this one for tips on what works best for runners.
And of course, luckily for you, we have these awesome workouts for you to add to your injury prevention workout repertoire!
INJURY PREVENTION FOR RUNNERS WORKOUT
The Glute Activator
This is a great, quick routine that can be done before running or before any kind of cross training. Get ready for your body to remember the glutes are a major source of power on the run. This is a three part exercise, but I encourage you to try doing a few bodyweight squats right now. See how they feel. Most runners have a hard time utilizing the glutes for running, so you may find you barely feel it in your glutes when you squat. After this quick glute activator set, you should find that when doing bodyweight squats again, you feel your butt working harder.
Now, here’s how the Glute Activator works:
First, you want to stretch your hip flexors. Get into a kneeling position with one foot forward. Tuck your tailbone under and hold it as you lean forward over the forward leg and feel the stretch in your hip flexors. Hold it for about 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Next comes the clamshell. Lie on your side, knees bent. With feet planted together, oepn and close your knees.
Then get down into a forearm plank and hold for a minute. The important thing is to really squeeze your butt as you’re planking – get those glutes firing!
Finally, do a few more squats and you should be amazed at how you can actually feel your glutes working harder in your squat. They will also be working just as hard on your run if you incorporate this into you running warm up.
Follow up your glute activator with what I call bird dips (because it makes you look like one of those bird toys you put on your glass that keeps dipping and dipping). They’re essentially single leg deadlifts and they’re vital for a runner. Balancing and strength training are both utilizing the glutes and hamstrings in this move.
Around the World Lunges
Around the world lunges are great for the endurance aspect of running. Knowing your muscles are going to tire and wear out on your during a race, and knowing you have the strength training base to combat that fatigue is important. From a standing position, lunge forward, back to start, out the to side, back to start and reverse lunge, then back to start. That’s one repetition – try for 15 on one side, then switch.
Wall Sit Kicks
Your quads are working hard when you’re running, especially if you’re running downhill. You can avoid injury in your knee by strengthening the quadriceps, the muscles surrounding the free-floating patella. Along with squatting and lunging, exercises where you’re extending your knee, like this one, are great for strengthening. Get into a wall sit position, then slowly extend one leg. Back to start, then extend the opposite leg.
More injury prevention workouts for you to try below!
Angela has battled back from injury and is currently running happy, thanks in part to workouts like this one:
Laura’s workout is full of great hip strengthening moves:
Nellie shares some great tips on how to avoid injuries as a runner:
Sarah gives you a simple plan to avoid some common running complaints:
Try one or all of these effective workouts and see what works for you to incorporate into your training schedule.
Do you have go-to exercises specifically for injury?
Have you ever come back from a major running injury?