Running injuries – recovery and prevention

Aug 21, 2019 | Jenni Ashford

Injuries are always a heavy blow when you’re training for an event like Exeter’s Great West Run.  Often common in beginner runners, ailments such as shin splints, piriformis syndrome, hamstring strain, IT band strain, plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee can derail training plans for days or weeks, or even months. Read on for our top tips to prevent or recover from running injuries and how yoga complements running for all over strength and flexibility.

The runners group at Exeter Golf and Country Club have had their fair share, so far, whilst training for the half marathon in October…some still ongoing.

Running injury – recovery plan

Maintenance Assistant, Tom, is finally back in his running shoes after three weeks due to developing shin splints in July.  Following advice from the PTs, he has continued to keep active in other ways. Tom has maintained his cardio-vascular fitness by playing badminton, climbing, mountain biking and going on long walks whilst his leg injury repaired itself within a compression sleeve. Compression sleeves or socks increase blood flow which reduces swelling and inflammation whilst providing support and stability during the run and improved recovery afterwards.

Tom returned to his running training slowly, keeping to 5K distances.  The PTs have now got Tom into the habit of warming up properly before running and more effective stretching with a foam roller after.

His first hill training session with PT’s James and Nick took place last week with repeat sprints up the field in Ludwell Valley.  Hill training acts as a resistance work-out for the glutes, hamstrings,quads and calves. Hill sprints will increase endurance – plus help him overcome the dread of Pinhoe Road and Exeter Uni hills in the Great West Run on the day!

Tom is back to building distance now with a 8.5k run in the rain – his first wet weather run. Experiencing runs in less pleasant weather conditions is really important preparation in case it’s cold, rainy or hailing on the big day!

Here are some top tips to prevent or recover from common running injuries, starting with how yoga can benefit runners in so many ways.

Yoga for runners

Yoga is the perfect activity to complement running. An hour of yoga a week will help prevent injury as well as assist with recovery.  Yoga, such as our Sports Yoga classes, will strengthen the core, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. Weak hamstrings often lead to injury as a result of front loading. A strong and balanced core will improve running posture, enabling more efficient running and saving energy. The bending and stretching in yoga will lengthen the posterior muscles and opening the hips to relieve tension in the lower body, potentially increasing stride length as well. Lastly, breathing. Yoga encourages controlled breathing under pressure, this will allow larger delivery of oxygen to the muscles, improving overall performance.

Common running injuries

Shin splints (painful shins, particular down the anterior side, sensitive to touch) – rest from running and try low impact sports instead (swimming, climbing, cycling), compression sleeves (wear in the daytime – and continue once running again), foam roller, ice packs – check your running shoes you may need support shoes for overpronation.

Piriformis syndrome (dull, deep, enduring ache in the centre of the glute muscle, often on one side) – spikey massage ball, tennis ball or golf ball rolled under the glute whilst sat down, foam roller, deep stretch such as resting the ankle of the affected side, across the knee of the other leg – either lean into stretch if sat down, or pull thigh of the ‘other leg’ towards the chest. Whilst running, stop halfway and do this stretch – for instance against a gate, bench etc. Work on strengthening the glutes.

Hamstring strain (pain down the back of the leg from glutes to back of knee) – rest from running, gentle but regular stretching of hamstring and calf – eg leaning against wall one foot forward, the other leg straight behind, foam roller, ice the area, glute strengthening exercises.

Plantar fasciitis (agonising pain in the heel, especially first thing in the morning) – ice a bottle of water and roll under arch of foot, stretch the heel and calf (lean against wall from a distance with one leg back and one forward – cross the forward leg across the body so the stretch is in the heel of the back foot), stretch foot by pulling toes back over the top of the foot. Try a cushioned, supportive running show such as Hoka Gaviota.

IT band (tightness and inflammation in the knee and the thick band of connective tissue from the outside of your hip to the outside of the knee) – immediate rest, side stretches, ice and heat. Glutes and core strengthening will help prevent repeat injury. Avoid foam rolling the painful area and roll slowly from bottom of hip to top of knee along the outside of the leg to loosen up the muscles, fascia, and IT band.


PT offer

Whether you’re looking to get from couch to 5K or you’re training for your first distance run, the personal trainers at Exeter Golf and Country Club can provide help with training plans, motivation and cross training.

Buy 5 sessions and get the 6th one free.

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