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How to Prevent Common Running Injuries:
Tips from a Sports Performance Physical Therapist
Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise worldwide. It’s accessible, requires minimal equipment, and can be done anywhere. However, running-related injuries are quite common, especially among beginners or those ramping up their training. As a sports performance physical therapist, I often work with runners to help them recover from injuries and prevent future ones. Here are some of the most effective ways to prevent common running injuries.
1. Proper Warm-up and Cool-down Routines
Starting your run with a proper warm-up prepares your muscles for the activity ahead. It increases blood flow to the muscles, gradually raises your body temperature, and helps improve muscle elasticity, reducing the risk of strains and pulls. A good warm-up routine can be as simple as a 10 min walk.
Similarly, cooling down after a run helps your body to gradually transition from an exercise state to a resting or near-resting state. This also doesn’t need to be more complicated than simply finishing your run with an easy 5 min walk.
2. Gradual Progression
One of the most common mistakes that runners make is doing too much, too soon. Increasing your mileage or intensity too quickly can lead to a variety of overuse injuries. A good rule of thumb is the “10% rule,” which suggests that you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from the previous week.
We also like to educate runners on the importance of only changing one variable at a time. So if you are trying to increase speed, focus on adding intensity to your runs, but don’t add milage at the same time. If you are trying to increase your weekly mileage keep your intensity stable.
3. Strength Training
While running is primarily a cardiovascular exercise, strength training plays a crucial role in injury prevention. Incorporating a strength training routine into your schedule can help build the muscles used during running, making them more injury-resistant. We like to recommend picking 3-5 exercises that target your weaknesses and focus on getting them in 2-3 days per week.
4. Proper Running Shoes
The right running shoes can make a significant difference in injury prevention. Everyone’s feet are different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s essential to choose shoes that are comfortable for you. In an ideal world, we like people to rotate through a few pairs of shoes from different brands so that they can decrease some of the repetitive stress of running.
Remember, staying injury-free allows you to enjoy running more and achieve your performance goals. If you do experience persistent pain or discomfort while running, it’s important to seek professional advice. Don’t wait and hope it will just go away.