1. Check your work environment
Think about where you work and what position you’re in most of the day. If you spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk you will have tight hip flexors and lengthened glutes. This means you increase your chance of developing lower back pain when you’re running. Schedule more standing breaks during your day and add glute-strengthening and hip flexor stretches into your routine to build up these key running muscles.
2. Get the right training plan - and stick to it
With the right plan you will see a natural development in your training load. Follow it closely, but don't try to catch up on missed sessions at the end of the week. To avoid injury, remember that a missed session is a lost session. Your programme should also be personalised and suited to your ability.
3. Drink more water
Training when you're dehydrated is a good way to get an injury. Your reaction times slow down, your blood thickens and you'll struggle to tap into your glycogen stores.
4. Stretch little and often
Stretching throughout your day is often better than doing loads before you start your run. If you have tight hamstrings, for example, stretch them for 45 seconds several times a day – you’ll reduce tension in your lower back and be less prone to injury.
5. Strengthen your core
Having a good core will halve your injury risk. A lot of people are obsessed with the plank, but your core is made up of little muscle groups, and these may be better activated by a lower level of stimulation before you build to a plank. First, get a friend to look at your plank form; holding the position with a straight back for 30-second intervals is an excellent starting point. Avoid rounding or sagging your back.
But if you struggle to hold form, use pelvic floor activation to develop strength in your core area. Lie on your back, place two fingers on each of your front pelvic bones and move those fingers down a few centimetres. Cough to get a contraction in a slightly oblique muscle called the transverse abdominus. Tighten this muscle by contracting as if trying to stop yourself mid-flow when using the toilet. At the same time, draw in your belly button and flatten your lumbar (lower back) curve. Hold for a few seconds and repeat five times.