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Running: 10 Golden Rules to Avoid Injuries

1. Keep it simple

Be careful to avoid over-treating or complexifying an injury. Avoid repetitive treatments that offer no progress. Avoid surgery. Orthotics should not be your primary option. Be sure to use simple, flat running shoes. 

2. The body adapts!
The body adapts as long as the given stress is no greater than its capacity to adapt. The majority of overuse injuries come from a surcharge on the anatomical structures (bones, cartilage, tendon, muscle...). Therefore, every new stimulus must be integrated progressively (volume, intensity, a difference in height, surface, new shoes).

3. Efficiency is in the rhythm
It is preferable to increase the number of steps to over 170 steps/min in order to minimize impact, loss of energy and the risk of injury while maximizing stride efficiency. Quality training (intervals, threshold, etc...) should be located anywhere between 180 and 185 steps/min.

4. The Kenyan surface
Flat surfaces (road, track, treadmill) cause regularity of movement in every stride, which means a repetition of biomechanical weaknesses. Cross-country is the best surface because it is a firm and irregular surface offering a wide variety of movements in the lower limbs.

5. Warming up: the secret of the pros
In order to prepare for training, you must: increase the temperature with progressive jogging for 15 to 20 minutes and progressive ballistic stretching (educational and progressive tempos).

6. Stretching: yes and no!
Pre-training static stretching should only be practiced IF muscular restrictions affect the biomechanics enough to create pathology or deterioration of mechanical efficiency.

7. Naturally strong
Barefoot running or walking as often as possible is a good way to solidify the support structures responsible for natural absorption... and prevent a number of injuries. The body can also be solidified with a stabilisation, strengthening and proprioception program.

8. A variety of activities, a variety of movements, a variety of stress...
Complete rest is rarely the best treatment when injured. A change in activity is recommended as soon as possible, i.e. painless cardio.

9. We are what we eat / a healthy mind in a healthy body
The foods we eat are the constituents of our bodies. Quality, variety, and balance are the keywords when talking about an athlete’s nutrition. Pleasure, positive attitude and good living habits have a direct influence on the body and its injuries, through complex physiological systems (hormones, nervous system, etc.).

10. Keep yourself well surrounded
Whether you are an elite athlete or an occasional jogger, your medical well-being must be assured by a competent, specialized and understanding health professional. For these precise reasons, a runner must never accept final recommendations from health professionals (physio, chiro, MD) who are not runners themselves.


Adapted by Éric Boucher, these tips came from the Prevention of Running Injuries seminar by Blaise Dubois, consulting physiotherapist with Track and Field Canada.

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