Injury Prevention for Runners

July 2024

On August 4, Proactive Physiotherapy will be supporting the Tamworth Running Festival. Click here for details of races and events.

Running Injury Prevention: Tips for Every Runner

Running is not just a sport or exercise; it's a passion that drives millions of people around the world to lace up their shoes and hit the pavement or trails. Whether you're a seasoned marathoner, a weekend warrior, or someone just starting out on their running journey, one common concern looms large: injuries. Running injuries can be frustrating setbacks that not only hamper progress but also cause discomfort and pain. However, with the right approach to training and prevention, many of these injuries can be avoided. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you prevent running injuries and keep you on track towards your goals.

1. Start with Proper Footwear

The foundation of injury prevention begins with your shoes. Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes can increase your risk of injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis. Visit a specialty running store for a gait analysis and get fitted for shoes that provide adequate support, cushioning, and stability based on your running style and foot shape.

2. Gradual Progression

One of the most common mistakes runners make is increasing mileage or intensity too quickly. Gradually build up your mileage and pace to allow your muscles, tendons, and bones to adapt to the stress of running. A general rule of thumb is to increase weekly mileage by no more than 10%.

3. Warm Up and Cool Down

Always warm up before you start running to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the workout ahead. Dynamic stretches such as leg swings, walking lunges, and high knees are effective in warming up the muscles. After your run, cool down with static stretches to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness.

4. Strength Training

Incorporate strength training into your routine to build muscle strength and stability. Focus on exercises that target muscles used in running, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core. A strong core helps maintain proper running form and reduces the risk of injuries related to poor biomechanics.

5. Cross-Training

Include cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga to improve overall fitness and give your running muscles a break. Cross-training helps prevent overuse injuries by reducing repetitive stress on specific muscles and joints.

6. Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain during and after running. Ignoring pain can lead to more serious injuries. If you experience persistent pain, reduce your mileage, take a break from running, and consider consulting a physiotherapist.

7. Proper Nutrition and Hydration

Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and micronutrients to support your running performance and recovery. Stay hydrated before, during, and after your runs, especially in hot and humid conditions.

8. Rest and Recovery

Rest days are just as important as training days. Schedule regular rest days in your training plan to allow your body to repair and rebuild tissues damaged during exercise. Adequate sleep is also crucial for recovery and overall well-being.

9. Run on Soft Surfaces

Whenever possible, choose softer surfaces like trails or grass instead of concrete or asphalt. Running on softer surfaces reduces impact on your joints and lowers the risk of overuse injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis.

10. Regular Check-ups and Assessments

Regularly assess your running form and technique to identify any potential issues that could lead to injuries. Consider getting a running analysis from a coach or physiotherapist to improve your biomechanics and reduce strain on your body.
By implementing these tips into your running routine, you can significantly reduce your risk of injuries and enjoy a long, fulfilling running journey. Remember, injury prevention is not just about running faster or longer—it’s about running smarter and taking care of your body. Happy and safe running!

11. Warning Signs of Injury

What pain is ok?

• General muscle soreness

• Slight joint discomfort after workout or next day that is gone in 24 hours

• Slight stiffness at beginning of run or walk that dissipates after first 10 minutes

What pain is not okay? (You should not train!)

• Pain that is keeping you awake at night

• Pain that is evident at beginning of run/walk then becomes worse as run/walk continues

• Pain that changes your stride

Please consult your physiotherapist if you have any injury concerns or pain that is not okay.