A Stitch in Time…

Don’t wait until injury hits and derails your training program. Running injury-free requires proactive action. Injury-proof yourself with a balanced training format, good nutrition and adequate rest and recovery.

It’s a great pleasure as a ‘health educator’ for me to see the numbers in each marathon event rising every single year. The popularity of long distance sports has reached a new high with the metros taking the plunge and smaller cities and towns also launching an interesting range of events. What was once an elite’s battle ground is today the common man’s play ground. Being a part of this madness myself, I love to see the numbers rising in marathons, ultra marathons, cycling, altitude running, etc.

But what I don’t like to see as a reflection of such mass participation is the unfortunate fact called “Injuries”. The surprising clinical truth about running injuries is…

Runners don’t get injured because they run, they get injured because they DON’T TRAIN enough for running.

I can personally vouch for this based on my 11 years of dealing with myriad sports injuries of various origins, and being a marathon runner myself. And this is completely avoidable. Injury prevention can easily be built into your training programme.
An injury prevention plan will include:

  • Comprehensive physical conditioning (your training format)
  • Good sleep
  • Optimal nutrition

Comprehensive physical conditioning

Your training format comprises the core elements of your training plan and how you train. Your training plan must increase the physical load bearing capacity of your body for your chosen activity. Any training for running SHOULD also have equal weightage assigned towards strength building and flexibility, along with running. A comprehensive physical conditioning in terms of weight training, yoga, pilates or calisthenics is necessary for every runner.

And don’t limit your exercises to you lower body. Aim for cross-fitness and athleticism. A body that easily executes a range of motions is overall less vulnerable to injuries and performs better on race day. A runner should incorporate ‘Circuit Training’, involving all the muscles of the body. Begin with simple routines, graduating to more complex ones. I recommend circuit training a minimum of three days a week, with each session ending with a thorough 20 minute session of cool-down stretches.

Correct form across your exercises is also essential to injury prevention. Working with a qualified instructor is the ideal way to achieve this though plenty of resources are available on the net.

Finally, remember, “To run better, one needn’t run more”.

When the running mileage goes higher and higher it becomes harder to recover fast, and when one pushes the semi-recovered body to labour harder… strains, sprains, soft tissue damage become common. So match your effort to the quality of rest and recovery you can afford.

Sleep for rest and recovery

A good night sleep is a must for relieving muscular fatigue and enabling tissue repair to take place. Tissue repair and rebuilding is what gives you the stronger, more powerful muscles you want to enhance your performance. This is what we call ‘super compensation’.

The basic minimum sleep is important. Most athletes need about seven-nine hours. But what is critical is how well you sleep. The gauge scale is do you wake up fresh? If not, your quality of sleep is poor.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation can help you sleep better. But if your reasons are linked to life-style factors such as long working hours and other responsibilities, take a realistic look at how much time you can devote to training. Training should not be at the cost of sleep. Remember, in training, quality is more important than quantity. With smart training, you can optimize your performance while getting the sleep you need to maintain your health.


Nutrition is the backbone to all the above. A planned diet is a must. After all, when you are maintaining a high level of activity, you can’t be random about how you fuel your body.

Your diet should be 100 percent natural and not derived from medical supplements. Incorporate a wide variety of foods in your daily diet, including plant based foods, proteins and complex carbohydrates. As athletes looking to push your limits further, working with a good nutritionist is a quality investment.

And remember, any diet program SHOULD be sustainable for a life time and not be a seasonal affair.

Training – Sleep – Nutrition all put together synopsis to form the perfect ingredient for and injury-free running. And when injury hits, take it easy! Allow yourself to recover. In the coming weeks, we’ll look at specific exercises you can do to reduce the risk of common running injuries injury.

“Prevention takes pain to proceed...Ignorance gives pain to stop”.

Last modified on Monday, 02 March 2015 12:55

Dr.Gladson Johnson

Dr.Gladson Johnson is a practicing Sports Physiotherapist by profession for the past 16 years and a passionate bare foot runner for the past 10 years. He is the founder of Attitude Prime an organization which caters to Sports Injuries and Lifestyle Management through “Exercises” . Dr.Gladson Johnson believes that “Exercise Is Medicine

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