More and more people have started running since the COVID-19 lockdown started and it’s easy to see why: fresh air, outdoors, community and the weight-loss and health benefits that come with it. But often injuries can sneak up that put beginners off running. Here’s what to look out for and how to make sure you’re starting on the right foot.
“That moment when you commit to levelling up is such an exciting time!” says Medshield ambassador and avid runner, Amy Hoppy. “It shows that you’re motivated, eager and already have a strong base and want to build more! Excellent! Just remember that doubling up a distance requires time and proper preparation. Any additional time that you put in now will push you to become stronger. But, the most important thing is to not do too much too quickly. That is how injuries creep in.”
Cape Town-based physiotherapist Genine Manchip shares her best running advice for beginners, offering insight into some of the most common running injuries she sees, what to do about them and how to know when it’s time to consult see an expert.
Most Typical Running Injuries
“Some common examples I see are ITB (pain on the outside of your knee), runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain (pain over the front of your knee), shin splints and Achilles tendinopathy.”
Causes of the most typical injuries Genine sees:
- “Overuse – The most common running aches and pains are overuse injuries, which generally occur because the runner has increased their training load – mileage or intensity – too quickly.” Medshield members can download our ClickFit Couch to 5km Challenge for a guided programme on how to ease into running for the first time. It’s also ideal for those who have been on a hiatus and want to pick up this sport again.
- “Wearing incorrect shoes.” Running might seem very accessible, but it can also be hard on the body. One of the easiest ways to prevent injuries is to run in the right shoes for your feet. Purchasing your first pair of running shoes can seem daunting – there’s so much info out there – but there will be a pair of shoes just right for you! Most good running stores offer a free running assessment (to check if you pronate, have high arches, how your foot strikes the ground when you land etc.) and some shoe brands even offer running shoes for testing.
- “Injuries caused by poor running technique, such as crossing the midline when landing, overstriding or they circumduct (swing their legs round at the hip) their hips instead of driving forwards at the hip and pushing off their toes.” If you join an athletics club, a coach might be able to help you with the correct form. There are also countless YouTube videos to watch. It is always a good idea to run and ask a friend to film you in order to see what you look like and where you can try to improve your form.
For proper strength training in between running training, try this 30-minute workout from Medshield Ambassador and personal trainer, Maphule Ndhlovu.