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  • Mandy Willis

Runners.....are you getting your beauty sleep?

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

Did you know that recreational runners make up the largest cohort of runners in the world?


Unfortunately, running-related injuries create major setbacks. This can be annoying for a multitude of reasons, other than the obvious pain or discomfort you may experience. It can affect your participation in other activities or sports, potentially contribute to time off work, or even deter you from returning to running (1) none of which are a great outcome!


In a cohort of 804 recreational runners, 54% sustained a running-related injury in the last 6 months, with up to 17% reporting multiple running-related injuries (1). The gender split was fairly even, with 55% of males comparative to 51% of females reporting at least one running-related injury, diagnosed by their physiotherapist or physician (1).


The most common locations for running-related injuries included the knee (45%), followed by the lower leg/achilles region (26%) (1).


Running-related injuries are multifactorial. A recent study by Mousavi et al., (2021) found the most common risk factors for recreational runners included:


· poor sleep quality

· running over 20km/week

· running sessions lasting 60mins or more

· architecture of the foot (including arch type)

· running on hard surfaces

· higher obsessive passion for running (ignoring niggles and running through pain), or

· participating in other activities/sports.


Of this list, mental aspects and sleep quality accounted for more than half of the total variance (1).


A study by Milewski et al., (2014) found athletes who slept less than 8 hours per night had 1.7x greater risk of sustaining an injury (2). Quality sleep is essential for recovery, adequate training adaptations and enhanced cognitive function – including mood, concentration, and reaction times (2). This translates to pulling up better following training sessions and better performance during activities, such as running.


So, long story short… Poor sleep and training errors are common factors that lead to increased risk of injury in active populations. Both of these are modifiable factors and with a bit of effort you can make some positive changes to reduce your injury risk.


Firstly, make sure you’re getting enough beauty sleep. Aim for 8 hours per night. It is also important to focus on sleep quality. Good quality sleep is characterised by the following:

  • Falling asleep soon after getting into bed, within 30 minutes or less.

  • Sleeping straight through the night, waking up no more than once per night.

  • Falling back asleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up.

  • When you wake in the morning you feel well rested and energised


Secondly, set yourself good "sleep hygiene" habits. Excessive screen time, especially in the hour before bed time, caffeine, alcohol, smoking and too many day time naps can all affect your ability to get to sleep and the quality of your sleep.


Set regular and consistent going to bed and waking times. Invest in a good mattress and pillow - not only will they help you sleep well, they will help prevent neck and back issues too.


To prevent training errors make sure you have a tailored running program that is individualised to your training experience and injury history. (contact us if you need some help with this, we work alongside some great running coaches)


Lastly, a trip to your Physio to review your foot and lower limb biomechanics and to seek advice around appropriate footwear, training loads and conditioning that may optimise your training and minimise risk of injury.




Evolved Physio is located in the Footscray-Maribyrnong area of Melbourne. We provide physiotherapy, clinical pilates, exercise rehabilitation and dry needling services to Melbourne's Inner West. Our experienced physiotherapists offer 45 minute consultations to ensure that your injury is comprehensively assessed and treated at every appointment.

Visit www.evolvedphysio.com or click the link below to make a booking





1. Mousavi, S. H., Hijmans, J. M., Minoonejad, H., Rajabi, R., & Zwerver, J. (2021). Factors Associated With Lower Limb Injuries in Recreational Runners: A Cross-Sectional Survey Including Mental Aspects and Sleep Quality. Journal of sports science & medicine, 20(2), 204–215.

2. Milewski, Matthew D. MD*; Skaggs, David L. MD, MMM†; Bishop, Gregory A. MS‡; Pace, J. Lee MD†; Ibrahim, David A. MD†; Wren, Tishya A.L. PhD†; Barzdukas, Audrius MEd‡ Chronic Lack of Sleep is Associated With Increased Sports Injuries in Adolescent Athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: March 2014 . 34(2), 129-133.

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