- Posted by Laura
- On 5th April 2018
- 0 Comments
Running has one of the highest injury rates of any sport.
Unlike swimming or cycling, running is a high impact activity that puts huge amount of stress on your musculoskeletal system, which means you need to pay more attention to rest and repair to prevent overloading your body.
When you’re running, your foot hits the ground with five to nine times your body weight. It’s up to your bones, joints, ligaments and muscles to distribute and absorb this force. When your body fails to absorb it all, you get injured.
But even the body of the most seasoned runner can’t absorb all this force without taking some damage. High impact activity causes damage on a microscopic level to your muscle fibres, known as microtrauma.
Like with all tissue damage, the body has an automatic response to healing these microtraumas, resulting in swelling and inflammation of the affected tissue. You’ve likely encountered the symptoms of this, known as DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, which peaks between 24-48 hours after training.
With enough rest, the damage to your tissue heals, you become stronger and you can resume training.
How microtrauma becomes a massive problem
If you don’t give yourself time to heal and continue to damage tissue that hasn’t fully recovered, the tissue can harden and impede muscle function. Keep going, and this unchecked microtrauma can spread and spread until what was a localised problem can affect large areas of your body.
Before you know it, entire sections of muscle or tendons are stiff, tight and easily fatigued. Try and push through and this worn out tissue can easily become damaged, like a green tree moving easily in the wind compared to a dried out old branch cracking and creaking.
In addition to this localised stiffness and injury risk, tight, damaged tissue can impede your movement and throw off your running gait.
You might start favouring one foot over the other, or shorten your strides as your leg is too stiff to fully extend. Not only will this cause your performance to drop off a cliff, it significantly increases your risk of injury.
If the structures in your body that are supposed to do the work can’t keep up, your body will compensate by shifting the load onto weaker structures that aren’t designed to deal with such loads.
Over time, this results in both your major, power-generating and shock-absorbing musculoskeletal structures being damaged, as well as your structures that are supposed to provide support and balance.
Learn to rest like the best
In short, by not giving your body time to rest and recover, you’ll outstrip its ability to heal and do more and more damage until something gives in, perhaps your quads, iliotibial band or your Achilles tendon.
And if you end up with a serious injury, you’ll have no choice but to rest. Rehabilitation or even surgery will put a halt to your training for months, and it will be even longer before you reach pre-injury performance. You might be tempted to skip rest days to power through your training, but the cost is much higher than the gains in the long run.
As an ex-runner who’s competed internationally as a triathlete, I know how easy it is to overload yourself. There’s always that urge to push yourself a bit harder, go for one day more than you’re supposed to. But as someone who’s also been injured more times than I can count, I can tell you first hand that it’s never worth it.
Now, I help other runners maintain peak performance and maximise their training with sports massage. Click here to read my blog on how massage can improve your body’s ability to rest and recover, and if you’d like to book a sport massage, you can get in touch with the clinic on 020 7497 8974 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Edmonds – LSSM SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPIST