A Chat between The Bear and Richard Saxton, expert on gait analysis at Running Bear and injury prevention at Physiofit

Bear: As a Physio, you must see a lot of running injuries, what’s your best advice for avoiding them? 

Richard: Many running injuries are down to repetitive overload, so one way to avoid injury is to vary the load by alternating the type of trainer you wear. Even a slight change in trainer style will change the impact forces your legs have to deal with.Think about different trainers for long runs and short runs or for weekdays and weekends. 

Also, think about varying the terrain you run on , trying to run as much as possible off-road. 

Running form can also play an important role, which is why gait analysis needs to include looking at your running style as well as getting the right shoe for you.

Bear: Is it true that running is bad for your knees? 

Richard: There is no link between the development of arthritis in your knees and the amount of running that you do. Those that don’t run or exercise have a greater risk of developing arthritis so it’s definitely better to exercise and get running. 

The important thing is to combine running with strength training, which improves performance and reduces injury risk. 15-20minutes , twice a week will improve your strength and running times. Change your routine every few weeks so you don’t plateau. 

Bear: Is running on a treadmill is the same as running outside?

Richard: There is not much difference between running outside and running on a treadmill in terms of biomechanics. The force created when you hit the floor is so similar that the difference is not important when thinking about injury prevention. It’s always nice to get some fresh air but it’s also important to maintain consistency. So run where it’s enjoyable and convenient for you. 

Bear: Should I be stretching before I run? 

Richard: Lots of research has been done on this and it appears that prolonged static stretching before running does not reduce injury rate. However, a dynamic warm up including exercises such as lunges, squats and high knees are much more useful in getting the blood going.

Static stretches have a role to play during or after warm down, if done carefully.

Bear: Will I get injured if I run too many miles?

Richard: What you do in your run rather than how many miles you run is more important in boosting performance and injury prevention. Alternating between hard runs (tempo runs, hill work, speed work) and a long run each week will enable greater gains in performance and test your body in different ways improving you general robustness. Try to avoid “junk miles” just to tick off on your list as they won’t necessarily accelerate your performance and they may increase the likelihood of injury.