Roundup of the Great Birmingham Run
Over 20,000 people took to the streets in Birmingham yesterday as part of the third Bupa Great Birmingham Run. Months of training for both professionals and amateurs came to fruition, with over 14,000 charity runners completing the course.
Amongst the professionals it was Gemma Steel who took first place in the womenís race with a phenomenal time of one hour and ten minutes, smashing her previous record by over two minutes. In the menís event, Thomas Ayeko took first place with a thirty second lead over the British Thompson. Second place was closely contested with Thompson having to fight the American Adbirahman in the final stages to keep the position, finishing just five seconds clear.
The event was a huge success, with popularity growing and registrations already open for next year. Training and preparation is always essential for any running event to ensure you can handle the distance as well as avoiding running injuries, which could influence your ability to compete.
What are the causes of running injuries?
The vast majority of running injuries are as a result of overuse, whether pushing yourself too far or failing to prepare for a run properly.
If you consider overuse, continued training will allow you to run faster and further over time but doing too much before your body is ready can ultimately end in injury. Your muscles and joints need time to adjust to exercise and you will know when youíve done too much as you can feel quite stiff and sore the following morning.
Running places an enormous amount of pressure on the ankle and knee joints, especially through road running. The continued impact on the tarmac can lead to degenerative conditions on joints, with osteoarthritis of the knee one of the more common conditions seen from persistent knee pain. This is caused by the gradual breakdown of cartilage within the knee joint, the material which prevents bone on bone contact and cushions against impact. It is worth pointing out that OA is not specific to running injuries but can affect people of all activity levels.
Running injuries can also be accidental, whether slipping, landing awkwardly or catching your foot when running on uneven surfaces. Each type of injury can range in severity and recovery time. Sometimes running injuries of this nature are unavoidable but overuse can play a part to some extent as if you are tired then the risk of injury is increased as your concentration diminishes.
The areas most affected by running injuries are in the lower body, affecting the ankle and knee joints and calf and hamstring muscles. Injuries can range from a simple sprained ankle to runners knee to a range of tears and ruptures to the muscles.
How to avoid running injuries?
There is no effective way of avoiding running injuries, but there are ways to minimise the risk and help manage against further injury.
Your preparation is one key way to train your body, by preparing for the distances you are about to run so that your body is conditioned and you are able to manage the challenge ahead. If you are running a half marathon then your first training session should not be a half marathon, but to gradually build the distance up over time.† You should also vary the type of training undertaken, working on distance, speed and interval sessions.
Warming up before a run and cooling down afterwards can also help to avoid running injuries. Performing stretches before a run makes your muscles more flexible and prepares them for action, failure to do so can lead to problems early on in your end through muscle injuries and stiffness. Following your run a cold down provides a gentle end to your run for your muscles and limits the build-up of lactic acid which can cause soreness and stiffness the following day, something a few of the runners from yesterday may be experiencing.
If you know of a weakness to a specific area of your body and want the confidence to continue exercising then you may consider a sports brace or support. These are designed to manage specific conditions across the body from ankle supports to knee supports to back braces. Their main objective is to help manage a condition by reducing pain and inflammation as well as offering additional structural support for the patient.
Ultimately we are all susceptible to running injuries, but it is what you do post injury which will dictate your overall recovery time. Firstly, you should stop exercising and rest and carrying on can cause more damage. Secondly, you should rest for a few days and apply ice where required to help with any pain and inflammation caused. Thirdly, if you are not feeling better after a few days then it is advisable to seek clinical advice for a professional diagnosis.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Regis discusses the use of orthotics for the management of sports injuries, reviewing injury rehabilitation through exercise and the use of bracing and supports. He frequently blogs and writes articles focussing on running injuries and methods of rehabilitation.