How To Avoid the 6 Most Common Running Injuries
Unfortunately, getting injured is as certain as death and taxes when it comes to being a runner. Running is a high-impact and repetitive sport, which means if there is any remote weakness, it will get pummeled and pounded until it breaks (or turns into an injury).
However, you can take steps as a runner to avoid common running injuries. While not all running injuries can be avoided, most of them can be intentional in the way you train and recover.
In this article, we will cover why runners get injured, when you should stop running due to pain, and 6 ways to prevent running injuries.
So, let’s go!
Why do I keep getting injuries from running?
This is a common question runners have. In fact, at least half of regular runners will get injured each year, according to Yale Medicine.
So, if you are dealing with an injury, take heart that you are not alone. The reason why so many runners get injured is because running is hard on the body.
When you run, you put force up to 7 times your body weight on your joints, muscles, bones, and connective tissues. This happens again and again (specifically, about 2,000 times per mile.)
If you have a weakness, imbalance, or do not recover well, these areas will eventually break (sometimes literally) under repetitive stress.
Do all runners get injured?
Not all runners get injured, but a majority do. And about 80 percent of the injuries are overuse injuries which means changes to their training regimen could have likely avoided the running injury.
6 most common running injuries
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common running injuries include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Runners’ knee
- Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
- Achilles tendonitis
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
How can I run every day and not get injured?
If you want to run every day, such as for a run streak and not get injured, make sure at least one day per week is low mileage and run at an extremely easy pace to get the muscles loose and improve blood flow.
Couple this with a good warm-up and cool-down routine, lots of easy running, solid sleep, and a healthy diet.
Should you run through soreness?
Running through muscle soreness, such as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS, is okay and may aid in the recovery of sore muscles by promoting blood flow. Keep your run short, light and easy at a recovery pace. If you start feeling better as the run progresses, you are okay to keep running.
However, stop running and walk home if the pain persists or gets worse.
Soreness is different than pain. A pain that is acute, sharp, dull, burning, sudden, or intensely achy is a sign of a potential injury and a pain you should not run through. If it still hurts after a few days’ rest, it is time to seek the help of a medical professional.
6 ways to prevent injuries when running
To prevent injuries when running, you need to balance your training stress with recovery and take good care of yourself when you’re not running.
We will detail 6 ways to avoid running injuries so you can keep doing what you love to do!
1. Correct Training
The most critical way to avoid a running injury is to train properly. Training properly means allowing for adequate recovery after a run or workout and increasing volume cautiously.
In general, a training plan should:
- increase training volume by 10 percent week to week
- include mostly easy running (80 percent)
- with hard running workouts on nonconsecutive days
- have at least one rest day
- and include a slight reduction in mileage of about 15 percent every 2-4 weeks
2. Running Form
Runners who have improper running form are at risk for injury because they put undue stress on different parts of their bodies.
Proper running form includes:
- An aligned body with head over shoulder, shoulders over hips, and hips you’re your mid-foot (feet are under the body)
- Arms should be relaxed and bent at a 90-degree angle, swinging by your sides (not across your body)
- And you should stand tall with a straight back (no hunching)
- Feet should land light and quick under your body (no pounding or overstriding!)
3. Strength Train
If you poll runners who have added strength training to their routine, they’ll likely tell you it’s helped them be a stronger, healthier runner.
Strength training doesn’t need to be complicated.
Add two thirty-minute sessions per week after a run that include basic moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, push-ups, and planks, and you’ll notice a difference!
4. Warm-up and Cool-down
Runners who forgo the warm-up and cool-down are at risk of injury because the body is not ready for the work you demand of it, and then it misses an opportunity to heal the damage done to it while running.
Take five minutes to do some dynamic stretches before your run, and then run the first one to two miles at a very easy pace before progressing to anything of intensity.
When you’re done with your run, jog or walk until your heart rate lowers. Then take at least five minutes to foam roll the major muscle groups of your legs. Some runners like to perform some yoga or static stretching as part of their cool-down too.
5. Proper Shoes
Many running injuries can be attributed to poorly fitting shoes. Head to a local shoe store, have them watch you walk and run, and get fitted for the right shoes that correct or work with your footfall.
It’s also a good idea to rotate types of shoes throughout the week to guard against repetitive stress on your body.
Finally, keep track of the mileage on your shoes. Most running shoes are done around 300 to 500 miles.
6. Eat and Sleep Well
Your body needs fuel to run. If your body lacks fuel such as carbs, it will look for other sources such as your muscles, leading to muscle-wasting (not good!).
And when you’re done with your run, it needs macros like protein to rebuild the muscles that have suffered damage from your workout.
So, eat well:
- before a run with a snack of mostly carbs about one-hour prior
- during long runs with about 30 grams of carbs every 30 minutes for a run over an hour
- and after your run, refuel with carbs, proteins, and fats within an hour of exercise
Similarly, sleep is when your body releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to repair damaged tissue. Skimp on sleep, and you skimp on recovery. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night–and more sleep the more you run!
Not all injuries are avoidable, but most are and with these injury prevention tips, you’re well on your way to having longevity in the sport!
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