A few things to consider when tackling a longer run where you will be pushing yourself – whether it be a marathon, a half marathon or even a 5km jog.
Up to 80% of runners get injured each year (1). Studies have shown that the more fatigued you become during running the more likely the chance of injury is (2,3 4). While this might just seem like common sense its worth understanding just how running injuries occur.
Here are some of the main changes we see though the different parts of the body and how they might affect you.
The longer you run and the more tired you get, the more your form suffers. We all know that feeling of pushing out the last few kilometres. When you start to get tuckered out, your foot flattens out as your arch drops. This flattening has been correlated with shin splints (5, 6, 7, 8), plantar fasciitis (9, 10), knee pain and even lower-back pain. This can be a precursor to changes in the biomechanics of the knee. As you become tired your knee tends to bend a bit more and also coming into the mid line, making you a bit more knocked kneed. This all works to increase the amount of force that is going through the knee cap (patella-femoral joint). If this happens for too long, we often see the most common running injury, aptly named “runner’s knee” or patella femoral pain syndrome (11).
Next, let’s jump up from the knee to the hip. Fatigue has been shown to increase the amount side to side movement through the hip. Too much of this movement will put stress on your hip itself and also your lower back (11,12).
When you run you also tend to increase how far you lean forward (2). This can switch off your all powerful core and can decrease the amount of arm swing you use. Your arm swing helps keep your core and glutes switched on.
The final thing to note, when you start getting tired during running, you tend to increase how far you stride, which also decreases your step rate. These two things can exacerbate all the previously mentioned symptoms (2).
So, what can you do? Simply take a bit of a self-check when you start noticing you’re getting weary on your run:
1. Look down to see if the knees are falling in
2. Keep your torso in a nice upright position
3. Make sure than you’re not taking long strides – you can think either about taking smaller steps, or more steps – whichever works better for you
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2. Benson, L (2015, October) Running in an exerted state: mechanical effects. http://lermagazine.com/article/running-in-an-exerted-state-mechanical-effects
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