10 Ways to Prevent Running Related Injuries
1. Strengthen your Leg and Core muscles:
Strengthening your leg or core muscles is key to preventing running-related injuries. Both regions of muscles ensure that we have the support, strength, and load capacity to stave off the consequences of the repetitive loads your body endures while running. The Lunge is a great exercise to begin with, as it targets the Gluteals, Hamstring, and Quads. Another important muscle group to maintain the strength of is the Calf muscle complex, or the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. These muscles assist with propulsion and need to strengthen to help prevent injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Additionally, keeping the lower abdominals and core muscles strong is just as important. Strong core muscles will assist with your running posture, decrease stress on the lower back, and improve the efficiency of your running. Now, who doesn’t want that!
2. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
Drinking enough water is absolutely VITAL in maintaining a pain-free and active lifestyle. Runners are particularly in need of proper hydration: when you run, the joints in your legs and back have to deal with an enormous amount of pressure. If these joints aren’t lubricated properly, friction will cause abrasion, thereby leading to pain and discomfort. Make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water on a daily basis, and if you’re running long distances in the heat make sure you add to that number.
3. Flexibility is Key
As with most exercises, being flexible greatly reduces your risk of injury. When it comes to running, things are no different. Flexibility is particularly important for runners, as it means the muscles are well equipped to deal with varying terrain, obstacles, and exertion. Yoga is a great way to enhance your overall flexibility while building strength and improving balance. These types of exercises strengthen your core and leg muscles, thereby correcting your posture during your run. It is far more difficult to injure a strong flexible muscle, and should a muscle be injured, a flexible muscle is able to recover much faster.
4. Gradual Mileage Increase:
We all want to shoot out the gate at a hundred miles an hour, but in order to prevent injury, the best thing to do is to increase the mileage steadily. We recommend no greater than a 10% increase in mileage per week.
5. Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
This is a tip that is overlooked far too often. As little as a 15-minute warm-up and cool-down can flush out the lactic acid and heat up muscle tissues. By taking the time to prioritize your warm-up (and cool-down), you will likely reap more benefits from your training over the long haul. What do you have to lose? Why not do some stretches, a gentle walk, or even a little yoga before/after your run?
6. Rest Days
We know that you may cringe when hearing this, but resting your legs and knees is an essential part of training and optimizing performance. I prefer the term “Active Rest days” because you’re still able to be active but holding off from running. Take a day or two off during the week and opt for a different type of activity: Pilates, yoga or even swimming are just a few ideas.
7. Essential Footwear
Invest in some supportive, comfortable running shoes. If your soles are worn out and you’re no longer getting the support you need, it’s time to grab a new pair. Remember to introduce the new footwear gradually, thereby giving your body time to adjust. All shoes are different, and it’s important to find a pair that’s right for you.
8. Running Form
Runners need to be aware of their running form. In so far as balance and posture are concerned, running is particularly responsible for twist/fall injuries. Your running form needs to be as functional and safe as possible, and one way to correct muscle overcompensation or weight distribution imbalances is to practice rectifying activities such as Pilates or yoga. Your legs, knees, ankles, and feet will definitely thank you!
9. Reduce Downhill Running Impact
Running downhill is particularly hard on your knees, and while many of you might like the challenge, it is a good idea to reduce the amount of downhill running you’re doing. Because running already places far more pressure on your joints than walking, taking care of your knees is a big priority.
10. Vary Running Terrains and Surfaces
The type of terrain you choose to run on plays a big role in the way your joints react and function. All too often, running-related injuries are a result of unforgiving, hard terrain such as asphalt and/or cement. Exposure to these types of terrain over long distances can result in serious injuries that could put your running lifestyle on hold. Try varying your terrain by running on grass and sand, for example.
So, there you have it: 10 ways to prevent debilitating injuries as a result of running. That having been said, if you are currently experiencing pain in your legs, knees, or feet, then we invite you to chat with one of our friendly, professional physical therapists, today. At Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy we focus on determining the “Root Cause” of your pain, not simply treat the symptoms. Our fellowship-trained manual therapists utilize “hands-on” techniques to quickly get you moving without pain and tightness. We also offer Dry Needling and IASTM to improved muscle and tissue mobility and activation issues which are so commonly seen with injured runners.
Don’t wait for the pain to disappear – act now and be back on the road in no time. Start the conversation with a FREE 20 min phone consultation by clicking here. We offer only a few of these consultations per week, so don’t delay reaching out. Call 512-659-5615 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to a sports specialist physical therapy now.