Prevent Running Injuries with the Latest High-Tech Gear
By Suzie Dundas
Ask any runner what the “best” injury is and you’ll probably get a variety of answers—but they’re all wrong. The best injury is one that doesn’t happen at all. Though they can be hard to avoid when you’re training on a tight schedule and have performance benchmarks to hit along the way.
Fortunately, sports technology is always expanding, and every year there are more and more high-tech products on the market designed to prevent injury before it happens. Whether you’re running, lifting, or vinyasa flow-ing, here’s a look at the latest tech to consider before diving into your race-training regime:
Smart Shoes: Whether you run on the treadmill or the trails, stepping the wrong way can result in a twisted ankle, or worse. And continually doing this—as over- and under-pronators often do—can lead to ongoing issues like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and tendonitis.
If you spend a lot of time pounding the pavement, prevent injuries with smart running shoes that measure your pace and stride length, or even insoles that send an alert if you’re putting too much pressure on one area of your foot. Some shoes even pair with your smartphone to offer words of encouragement and tips while you run.
Kinesiology Tape: Most runners know about kinesiology tape, often just called athletic tape, as a way to gently support old injuries and sore muscles. But the tape can also be used to gently lift skin away from muscles, which creates more room for blood flow and reduces pressure on the joints. For easy application, look for the newest (and most expensive) options made of medical-grade waterproof materials, which are often pre-cut into shapes specific to body placement.
Audio-enabled Sunglasses: A downside of running with headphones—aside from readjusting when they fall out—is that they can often make it difficult to hear sounds around you. This can be especially challenging on shared trails or roads with multiple people or vehicles.
Companies like Bose, Zungle, and OptiShokz have recently introduced sunglasses with built-in audio capabilities to combat this problem, reducing what you need to bring on the trail and making ambient sounds easier to hear.
They work by using the bone behind your ear as a conductor, rather than playing music directly into your ear canal, for safer listening. These keep you aware of your surroundings to ensure you don’t have an unfortunate run-in with a car, bike, or fellow runner. Choose from wrap-around designs for biking or running or more stylish options for lower–impact workouts. Some pair with your phone via Bluetooth, while others have internal storage and built-in audio controls.
Compression Apparel: Most common are compression socks, but you can find compression shorts and armbands, too. Wearing compression gear for workouts and recovery can reduce excessive muscle vibrations, increase blood circulation, boost the amount of oxygen reaching your muscles, and eliminate lactic acid faster so your muscles feel less fatigued and sore after a workout. Better blood flow also helps reduce swelling; another added bonus.
Heart rate-monitoring clothing: For serious runners, tracking your heart rate is an essential way to make sure you’re not overexerting yourself, identify a sustainable level of activity, and chart improvement over time. Since chest straps and devices can be cumbersome, consider a running top or sports bra with a built-in heart rate monitor.
Current options are made of your standard moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics, along with a small monitor (about an inch wide) that attaches to the shirt or bra below the chest. Some pair only with proprietary apps, but many are compatible with the third-party running and fitness apps you probably already have on your phone.
Of course, the best way to prevent injury is to be attuned to your body and able to identify the difference between a healthy level of exertion and a risky one. But for both new runners and runners pushing the boundaries of their personal limits, it can be difficult to tell the difference, which is why swapping in a few new pieces of gear may make all the difference. Find our specific injury-prevention gear picks at sportsguidemag.com.