Injury Prevention

To help you stay injury free while you're training for a cycling event, run, hike or swim, we’ve compiled a list of the most common injuries and how you can prevent them. You'll need to be patient and build up your training gradually to avoid injury. 

The golden rules of exercise are:

  • Start gently.
  • Build up gradually.
  • Do it regularly.
  • Always get specialist advice as soon as possible if you are at all unsure about any pain.

Running

Training Surfaces

The ideal running surface is soft, level and should allow good grip. Hills should only be gradually incorporated into your routes, particularly if you have never trained on them before. Avoid surfaces that are too hard or too cambered, and try to limit the amount of running you complete each week on the road.

Training Shoes 

Everyone is unique which means we have different foot plants and running styles. There are categories of shoes made especially to help your particular action. We strongly recommend that you visit your local specialist running shop for advice on what type of shoe is right for you.

Training methods

A sudden increase in volume or speed in your training can cause injury. Your programme should allow for a gradual progression in pace and distance. We have training schedules for beginners, intermediate and advanced runners to help you plan your training.

Stretching

Stretching after exercise is essential to avoid injury. We have a stretching factsheet which covers a series of stretches and descriptions which will cover most of your requirements. 

Our online shop has equipment available to help with your warm-up and cool-down. Buy a balance ball kit to help work your body muscles, or try a resistance cord to help strengthen and tone.

Rest 

Rest and recovery are just as important as training. One without the other will certainly lead to poor performance. Without recovery the body will not progress and performance cannot improve.

Consider Sports Massage 

"Prevention is always better than cure". A good sports massage can check for tight muscles or scar tissue and reduce the risk of injury by flushing the waste materials and debris from tissue damage or inflammation that arise when training hard.

Blisters

Many runners occasionally suffer from blisters. The heels, toes and balls of the feet are the most commonly affected areas. To avoid getting blisters make sure you have properly fitting running shoes and break them in gradually. Never wear new running shoes for a race or long run. Top tip: moisture wicking socks helps the foot keep dry and blister free.

Plantar Fascitis

This is an inflammation of the fibrous sheath that runs most of the length of the sole of the foot, usually at the point where it attaches to the heel bone. It is a common cause of heel pain in runners.

Lack of support from your running shoes increases the strain of the Plantar fascia and leads to the development of inflammation. Conservative treatment, such as physiotherapy, aims to reduce local inflammation and address any biomechanical problems.

While the Plantar fascia is still painful it may be treated with ice packs (never apply ice directly to the skin) and anti-inflammatory medication. Once the pain has subsided, stretching the Plantar fascia (by pulling the toes towards the shin) is effective in encouraging the tissue to regain its normal alignment.

Shin splints

This is a common term for pain in the shin region. The symptoms include feeling pain on the inner side of the shin during exercise and also at rest. The amount of stress being placed on the shins can be reduced by wearing running shoes suited to your running style, increasing your training load gradually and reviewing the surfaces you are training on.

The best treatment is rest, strengthening and stretching exercises, followed by a gradual return to running after symptoms subside.

Achilles Tendonitis 

The Achilles tendon is situated above the heel and forms the lower part of the calf muscles. The main symptom of achilles tendonitis is pain 2-3 centimeters above the heal, which is worsened by activity. The area can also feel tender to touch. When inflamed the tendon does not keep its normal tensile strength and may be liable to rupture with continued sporting activity.

Over use of the Achilles tendon is the common cause of the inflammation so the intensity and frequency of your training sessions should be carefully monitored and gradually increased. Muscle strength and flexibility should be maintained through regular strengthening and stretching sessions.

Pain in the knees 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is commonly known as ‘Runner's knee’. The symptom is usually a pain located on the outside of the knee joint. This is often caused by an overuse of the muscle. 

To avoid this injury make sure you gradually increase your training load and stretch after each session. Runner's Knee is an inflammatory condition and therefore, ice packs and anti inflammatory medication can help ease any discomfort.

Cycling

Knee, neck and/or back pain

These are generally caused from incorrect bike set up or from trying to do too much too soon. If you have any concerns about your bike, why not visit your local specialist bike shop for advice on your set up. Also, remember the exercise golden rule - be patient and gradually build your fitness. A great tip is to increase your mileage by no more than 10 – 15% each week.

Illotibial syndrome 

Commonly known as ‘Runner's knee’, but this is also the most common cause of knee pain in cyclists. The symptom is usually a pain located on the outside of the knee joint. This is often caused by an overuse of the muscle.

To avoid this injury make sure you gradually increase your training load and stretch after each session. Runner's Knee is an inflammatory condition and therefore, ice packs and anti inflammatory medication can help ease any discomfort.

Calf injuries 

You can gain a calf injury from continuous cycling as it can cause gradual shortening of the muscles. To prevent any strains, stretch after each ride. If you do have calf strain, icing the area and light stretching will settle the problem. 

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is situated above the heel and forms the lower part of the calf muscles.. The main symptom of achilles tendonitis is pain 2-3 centimeters above the heal, which is worsened by activity. The area can also feel tender to touch. When inflamed the tendon does not keep its normal tensile strength and may be liable to rupture with continued sporting activity.

Over use of the Achilles tendon is the common cause of the inflammation so the intensity and frequency of your training sessions should be carefully monitored and gradually increased. Muscle strength and flexibility should be maintained through regular strengthening and stretching sessions

Other injuries

Accidents are a big cause of cycling injuries. Remember to always wear a helmet. They’re lightweight, comfortable to wear and cost very little. Gaining experience of cycling in a group before your event day is will also help you prepare for your bike ride.

Swimming

Shoulder and neck pain

Generally caused from trying to do too much too soon. The key to training is to increase your distance/volume gradually to prevent injury.

Cramp

This is fairly common during cold-water swims and often occurs in the foot and calf. Overexertion and/or dehydartion are common causes. It is easy to think you don’t lose water while you are swimming. 

To avoid cramp remember to be well hydrated before a swim. But you do sweat, so it is important to remember to be well hydrated before a swim. Including some stretches after your warm up can also help prepare your muscles for more intense exercise.

Walking

Black toenails

These are often caused by shoes that do not have enough space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe or contact between the two during long periods of downhill walking or running. To prevent black toenail you need to ensure you have correctly fitting socks and shoes.

Blisters

These are caused by friction against the skin. This problem can be due to ill-fitting shoes but is often due to a rough area in a shoe or sock or pieces of grit in the shoe. 

Stop when you first feel any localised burning or discomfort and see if there is an obvious reason. If a hot spot is found then immediately covered with a protective layer as this can prevent a blister forming. A number of blister plasters are available which allow the area to remain clean and help the healing process.

Muscle cramps

These are a painful spasm or contraction in the muscle. This can be exacerbated by dehydration or loss of electrolytes from the body during heavy sweating. Advice is to stretch the muscle area and apply gentle massage.

Side stitch

This often occurs during periods of extra effort. Slowing down and varying your breathing pattern can improve this condition.

Sprains

Ankle sprains are common injuries when walking often caused by walking on irregular surfaces or your foot slipping off an edge or losing your balance. The areas that become inflamed can often be treated by the basic first aid of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) as soon as possible after the injury. This immediate treatment helps to reduce swelling and pain.