Although focused for runners, this information is useful for a multitude of athletic endeavors
1. Surround yourself with the right people
Proper medical and coaching supervision for all runners, whether high performance athletes or joggers, must be done by qualified, competent and understanding professionals. For this reason, a runner must never accept final recommendations from a professional (physiotherapist, chiropractor, MD, …) that is not a runner himself.
2. Keep it simple
Be careful not to complicate or “over-medicalise” your condition. Avoid repeated treatment without progress. Avoid surgery. Do not choose plantar orthoses as a first option. Use a simple running shoe… very flat, allowing for sensations from the ground.
3. Your body WILL adapt!
The human body will adapt as long as the applied load is not greater that the body’s capacity to adapt. Overuse injuries are caused by an overload of the body’s anatomical structures (bones, tendons, muscles). Every new stimulus must be integrated progressively (hills, volume, intensity, surfaces, shoes…).
4. Rhythm is the key!
To minimize ground reaction force, energy loss and injuries while maximizing stride efficiency, it is preferable to keep your stride rate over 170 strides/min. Quality workouts (intervals, race pacing) should be done between 180 and 185 strides/min.
5. The Kenyan surface
Flat surfaces (road, track, treadmill) are very regular and make every stride mechanically identical to the last. On these surfaces, a biomechanical flaw will be repeated over and over increasing the chances of overuse injuries. The best surface is cross-country or trail running. Firm and irregular; these surfaces allow for a wide variety of movements and therefore a mechanical load that is properly distributed on the lower body.
6. Warm-up: a well kept secret
To get ready for a workout, you must increase your body temperature by a progressive jog (15 to 20 minutes) followed by progressive functional ballistic stretches.
7. Stretching: yes and no!
Pre-workout static stretching should be done ONLY IF running biomechanics are sufficiently altered by shortened muscle groups to either increase the risk of injury or decrease mechanical efficiency.
8. Naturally strong
Barefoot running or walking as often as possible is an excellent way to solidify muscles and tendons that are responsible for the body’s natural absorption mechanisms. Specific stabilization, proprioception and strengthening programs are also good ways to prevent injury.
When injured, complete rest is rarely the best treatment. A cross-training activity is recommended as soon as possible. A cardio-vascular activity that is not painful will decrease recovery time.
10. We are what we eat / Body and mind
We are what we eat… literally! Quality, variety and balance are the most important words when speaking of an athlete’s diet. Having fun, having a positive attitude and having healthy life habits all have direct influences on the body and on injuries.