Injury Prevention for the Endurance Runner

Running is a repetitive, cyclic activity. As a result, many runners end up with repetitive strain injuries. Additionally, some athletes have physical restrictions that lead repetitive forces becoming localized in certain body spots. These restrictions, when combined with repetitive movement, often result in injury.

What types of injury prevention strategies are worthwhile?

Strength training?

This is a great one, especially for endurance athletes. Endurance runners already have endurance-adapted muscles, but may be neglecting fast twitch muscles.

When faced with a situation where an injury is likely to occur, there is a need for fast twitch fibers to activate and protect the hard tissue of bone from taking too much strain. It is best for the endurance athlete to work on full body strength.

Stretching?

This may not be the best idea, especially for the endurance runner. There has been research both for and against static stretching.

The possible issue with stretching for an endurance runner is that there is no proof that the tight muscle should be stretched. In a person that does repetitive work, there is adaptation to become more efficient in performing that task (running). There are also reflexive adaptations to maintain the stability of the entire body. These may be compromised with stretching.

There is also the issue that sensory nerves (primarily the muscle spindles) respond to overstretching a muscle by creating tension to protect the muscle and joint, as well as sending pain signals. Stretching a tight muscle may cause more harm than good.

Therapy?

Depending on the therapeutic modality, there may be an opportunity to prevent running injuries. Movement screening such as Gray Cook's FMS has shown positive results and can be self guided. However, some things are not possible to correct on your own.

With Osteopathic Manual Therapy, I look at how the entire body functions and moves through space. Once I find the restrictions, I remove them so that the patient will be able to distribute forces more evenly throughout their body and avoid repetitive strain injuries. I make sure that the repetitive strains do not set you up for future injury so you can enjoy running for years to come.

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