Let's jump right in and get things started with the first law in this list of 10: Running injuries are not an act of God.

I know it sometimes feels like the gods have conspired against you, and injuries seem to happen just when you feel like you are getting on top of your training. But if you analyze the events leading up to the point where breakdown occurred, hindsight will allow you the luxury of being able to see that there were indeed warning signs.

Sports injuries, are generally classified into 2 main groups: Extrinsic or Intrinsic. Extrinsic injuries are the result of some external force or action acting upon the body, resulting in an injury. Being hit by a car while on a run is an example of Extrinsic injury.

On the other hand, Intrinsic injuries are the result of internal factors, inherent to the individuals body (anatomy and mechanics), and have 3 (or more) main factors:
  1. The athletes genetics
  2. The environment in which training takes place
  3. The manner in which the athlete approaches their training.
Genetics (for the most part), cannot be altered, but training environment and training methodology can, and these 2 points are always changing.

When we are talking running, the region of the body most afflicted by injury, are the lower quadrants. The hips, knees, ankles, feet, and their supporting structures such as muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones, are the sites where injury occurs.

The manner in which the lower limbs are structured, determines how the function during running, and this translates into risk of injury.

We are afflicted with a number of genetic issues that make the majority of us runners biomechanically inefficient and more predisposed to acquiring an injury associated with these "genetic issues".

Factors such as: Leg length differences, bow legs (Genu Varum), knock knees (Genu Valgum), Internally or externally rotated legs and feet that pronate or supinate, to name a few. One or more of these factors are often found in most runners, and as already mentioned, can predispose runners to injury.

The training environment is somthing that can be controlled so as to avoid injury occuring.

The environment in which we train can increase the impact our genetics have on our risk of acquiring an injury.

Simple example: The camber that is found on almost all roads can wreak havoc on the body. The camber can artificially making one leg "shorter" than the other, which can in turn lead to an irratation of the Ilio-Tibial Band.

This can result in Ilio-Tibial Band Friction Syndrome

Simple solution: We can make modifications to our training to ensure we run on the side walk, or in the middle of the road during races, to avoid the camber.

Training methodology is related to our approach to our training. This can include aspects such as: training volume and increases in training volume, proper training progression over time, the assignment of training volume, ensuring sufficient recovery, incorporating weight training and flexibility training into your program etc.

Once again, you have complete control over these factors, and by following a correctly periodized training program, you can significantly reduce the chances of getting injured.

So instead of expending energy focusing on the things you have little or no control over (how unlucky you are to have a certain body structure, or foot type), focus on the factors that you have control over, your training environment and your approach to your training.

Next week I will have a look at Law 2, which looks at the 4 grades that every injury passes through.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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