How to Avoid Speedwork Injuries

Which Overuse Injuries Are Most Common During Speedwork?

The School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne reports that the most common overuse diagnoses among track and field athletes are "stress fractures (21 percent) and hamstring strains (14 percent)."

A stress fracture occurs when repeated pressure is applied to the bone over time. If the muscles surrounding the bone, and the bone itself, have not been given enough time to adapt to the pressure, a fracture occurs. 

Hamstring strains involve a tear in one or more of the hamstring muscles. Hamstring strains can range from mild discomfort or tightness to severe pain and noticeable swelling. Meniscus tears and tendonitis are also common speedwork injuries.

More: 5 Key Stretches for Runners

How Can I Prevent Injuries From Occurring During Speedwork?

By following a consistent and appropriate speed-training prescription, it is possible to increase your speed with minimal risk of injury. Most injuries occur when runners are not properly conditioned or try to take on too much, too soon. 

UCSDMDSM suggests a multi-pronged approach that focuses on a combination of sports-specific conditioning, strength training, flexibility exercises and an awareness of intensity norms. Intensity should not be increased too rapidly. In addition, a warm-up period before every speedwork session is recommended.

What Should I Focus on During Training?

Before a runner takes on speed-training sessions, he/she should have met a minimum level of conditioning. Leg and hip muscles should be strong and flexible, and correct form should be mastered. 

According to masters runner and coach Art Ives, "Lots of people are willing to put forth the effort, but they don't have the mechanics. For example, they might have poor posture, or their alignment is off."

Once a runner is adequately conditioned, Ives suggests for him/her to focus on form by learning to be relaxed while running. 

More: How to Run Relaxed

"Approach speed from a source of relaxation," he says," rather than just running hard."

If a runner is relaxed, Ives contends that he/she will be less likely to make common mistakes, like over-striding, which can lead to injury.

Ives' final recommendation for runners looking to increase speed: "Practice and enjoy running a lot. Put in the time. Learn these principles and move forward."

More: 4 Ways to Build Speed Workouts Into Your Runs

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