What do people like about running? Being outside. With your friends. Having a natter. Feeling the endorphins kick in. Exploring somewhere stunning. The satisfaction of knowing you've pushed yourself a bit perhaps? Whatever the reason it sucks when you can't do that. Running is great as long as we can continue to do it. It's pretty obvious to anyone that's been running for a bit that preventing injuries soon becomes one of their objectives, just as important as achieving goals, whatever they are. You can't achieve your goals if you're sat at home injured: sounds obvious but plainly true. This is where it pays to have a strategy to help prevent injury. Many of us have a strategy and mine is two-fold. Firstly preventative physio check ups - catching niggles before they become full-blown injuries is a great idea and i can't recommend it enough. Secondly, an interest in complementary sports. By that I mean sports that work to strengthen or help the body recover without the repetitive impact associated with running. So for me this is cross-fit training, cycling and occasionally swimming. When we think of runners doing a few other sports like swimming and cycling, we simply just think that they are training for a triathlon. Whilst this may be true in some cases, it's not always necessarily so.
Cross-fit works to strengthen not just leg muscles but also the upper-body through exercises like squats, lunges, planks, press-ups, pull-ups, Russian-twists and a plethora of other workouts. I used to read 'Runner's World' and see these activities all the time and simply turn the page, thinking why would I want to do that? But there's reason behind the madness: a stronger body is a body that can maintain better posture whilst running, so helping to avoid injury. Still sound mad? Cycling is great too. It's just great whether social, or solo. Not only does it help to strengthen quad and glute muscles, which are important for running, it is also a great way to stretch the legs out and release toxins after hard running sessions with no impact. Training and also recovery. Lastly swimming. An all-body workout with zero impact. Remember the last time you swam? Jump in a pool and try a few lengths...it's surprising how it leaves you breathless. It's a great cardio exercise. You often hear about rehabilitation of injured athletes and one of the first things they turn to when getting back to sport is aqua-running or swimming.
All of the above work together to strengthen the body or help it recover, depending on how you do them and so are perfect for runners who want to avoid injuries or conversely want to improve. Of course, nothing is 100% guaranteed because injuries can strike anyone for a variety of reasons, like bad luck, bad form or bad planning, but reducing the chances of injury through multi-sport activities for strength or active recovery must surely be of benefit to runners whether their goal is to stay injury-free or to improve. So why not dust off the bike, do a few cross-fit exercises or get down the pool now and again, and help yourself to a dose of injury prevention?