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Run Faster And Injury Free

9 Ways To Safely Run Faster And Injury Free

Do you live in Ottawa and want to run faster and injury free?

If so, you are in the right place.

Today, I will talk about the nine ways to safely run faster and injury free.

Let’s jump in by looking at why people get injured.

Why Do People Get Injured?

The body adapts if the applied stress/load is not greater than its capacity to adapt.

The load includes speed, hills, running biomechanics, volume, terrain and shoes.

Capacity includes extended rest, cigarettes, stress, poor gut health, nutritional status, sleep, anxiety, medications and depression.

All these capacity factors can lead to poor muscle activation, which means your muscles will tire quickly and potentially lead to injuries.

I can test for poorly activating muscles in my osteopathic practice and identify the underlying cause.

Increased load causes 80% of injuries, while 20% results from reduced capacity.

Everyone has a minimum and maximum capacity to sustain mechanical stress to create adaptions.

If you do a little exercise, your body will lose its ability to adapt to mechanical stress. 

But, if you don’t use it, you will lose it and be more likely to develop injuries.

Likewise, if you go above your maximum capacity to sustain mechanical stress, this also increases the possibility of sustaining injuries.

What are Mechanical stressors?

Mechanical stressors include not only sports but your daily routine and work.

What activities create more stress on the body?

When thinking about the Achilles tendon, the following activities will create stress from low to high:

  • Swimming
  • Pool running
  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Running
  • Running speed intervals
  • ABCD’s
  • Plymometrics – star jumps.

What Is The Right Dosage Of Activity?

If you go beyond your maximum capacity to adapt, this will result in the following:

  • Pain during activity
  • Pain after activity
  • Morning stiffness

There will be no adaptation if you remain below your minimum Capacity to adapt.

Keeping activity levels between the minimum and maximum capacities to adapt will increase your body’s ability to sustain mechanical stress and injury.

So, when determining your activity level, you should always listen to your body.

The level of your maximum capacity to adapt depends on factors such as your sleep, mood, and diet.

So if you sleep poorly, have a poor diet and are depressed, your body’s ability to tolerate high activity is lower and more likely to sustain an injury.

Why Did I Get Injured?

Often clients need clarification as to why they get injured.

For example, they are told to start exercising more by their doctor.

They begin at 10 minutes on day 1, then 20 on day 2, then 30, 40, 50 and 60 minutes.

If we look at this in terms of impacts, if you are running at 180 impacts per minute, then 10 minutes is 1,800 impacts, and 60 is 10,800 impacts.

This increase in impact is far too quick, will need more time for the body to adapt and will result in injuries.

Introducing one component at a time is best when developing a running program. 

First, increase mileage, then speed, then hills etc.

Also, when increasing the different components, it is best to have a reduction every 4th week, allowing the body to recover.

Let’s Talk About Strengthening Training

What type of strength training is best for running economy and performance?

A recent research study 2022 found that heavy slow resistance training increased running performance by 3-5%, while plyometrics gave average improvements in running performance between 1-5%.

Strength training has not been shown to limit the possibility of injuries in runners, but it will help you run faster.

What about Barefoot running?

Introducing some barefoot running into your running program can:

  1. First, increase your foot strength so that you can run faster.
  2. Increase foot capacity so, lowering your risk of injury.
  3. It adds variety to your training.

It is essential to introduce barefoot running very slowly, so start with 1 minute and increase by 1 minute each time.

What About Stretching?

You will have an increased risk of injury if you are not flexible or overly flexible.

If you are a runner, then you should stretch:

  1. If you have muscle stiffness.
  2. After workouts
  3. For runners stretching your hip flexors (Psoas and Quads) has been shown to increase performance.

You should not stretch:

  1. If you are hyper-flexible.
  2. Before workouts.
  3. Not your calves or hamstrings.

What About Running Technique?

Changing a running technique depends on the runner’s level and the degree of adaptation.

Forunner’se, if you are an elite marathon runner with extreme inversion of the ankles, then you would not change your technique.

The same principle applies to recreational runners if you have a similar issue with your ankles; as long as you build up slowly, your body will fully adapt.

What About Running Gait?

An inefficient running gait is where the foot lands ahead of the centre of gravity (over-striding).

Over-striding will slow you down because of the following:

  1. Increased braking force – so slowing you down.
  2. Increased ground contact time.
  3. Increased vertical displacement – bouncing up and down while running.
  4. Reduced cadence or step rate per minute.

An efficient running gait is where the foot lands closer to the centre of gravity.

This will lead to better performance because of the following:

  1. Low foot strike angle (close to the midfoot).
  2. Reduced contact time.
  3. Reduced vertical displacement.
  4. Freely chosen step rate, around 180 steps/min.

The inefficient running gait is found only in those wearing cushioned shoes. In contrast, the efficient running gait is comparable to the barefoot running gait.

So when looking at running gait, you can increase performance and reduce the risk of injury by the following:

  1. Increasing cadence or step rate (Optimal is 180)
  2. Run soft
  3. Feeling the ground

What about Footwear?

Do modern running shoes, with their technologies (support, stability and cushioning), prevent injuries?

In a research review paper published in 2022, the authors concluded that cushioned shoes, motion technologies and pronators do not prevent injuries.

When choosing a shoe, the key factors are comfort, correct shoe size and environmental protection.

Often shoes are classified into three categories: maximal, traditional and minimal cushioning.

This classification was based on a research paper published in 2015.

In this paper, the researchers have a definition for a minimal show running shoe:

“Footwear providing minimal interference with t “e natural movement of the foot with its high flexibility, low weight, stack height and heel to toe drop, and absence of motion control and stability technologies.”

In 2022, the same researchers developed a sca” e, the minimalist Index (based on the above five factors), with which you can rate any running shoe.

A 100% minimalist index shoe is more minimalist.

Runners wearing higher minimalist index shoes tend to have a higher cadence, a midfoot strike, increased stress on the foot, Achilles and calf, and increased VLR.

Runners wearing a lower minimalist index shoe tend to have an increased VLR and increased stress on their shins, knee, hips and lower back.

The industry standard is about 20%.

The shoe’s weight is critical to running faster.

The lighter the shoe, the faster you will run.

If you want to change your shoe, you must do it gradually.

Gradually means adding one minute per day using your new shoe.

If you start to get pain after a specific time, stay at that level until the pain disappears.

In general, you must have a reason to change your shoes.

The Running Clinic has developed a simple algorithm to help you decide whether to change your shoes.

How To Run Faster And Injury Free – In Summary

In summary, here are the nine key points to consider if you want to run faster and injury free:

  1. Run often and short runs, and make 80% of your runs easy.
  2. Strength training (heavy) 2-3 times per week.
  3. Think about load and capacity factors.
  4. Wear light shoes.
  5. Any change must be gradual.
  6. Run at a cadence of greater than 170 steps/min.
  7. Listen to your body.
  8. Shoes keep it simple – only change if you need to.
  9. Smile!

Now It’s Time To Hear From You

Are you wondering how to run faster and injury free?

What have you tried to run faster and injury free?

Let me know in the comments below.

Do you need help?

If you live in Ottawa and want extra help to run faster and injury free, I suggest you book a free osteopathy discovery session to discuss whether I can help you.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.

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