How to Avoid Injuries While Running

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert runner, avoiding injury should be top-of-mind for you. Staying healthy will help you reach your goals quicker and live a happier, more fulfilled life. Here are our top tips on preventing injuries while running.

With so many people trying to be as active as possible today, it’s important to understand the proper way to train to avoid injury. We have outlined a few key tips for you to follow when you’re interested in running as a beginner.  

  • What should you know before they start running in order to avoid injury? 

When it boils down to it, you truly start by taking the first step. Whatever you can comfortably do, that is your starting point. From there, try to increase the challenge and build on that starting point by about 10% a week, over a long period of time.  

The 10% change challenge can encompass a number of different things including a change in distance, a change in time, and a change in intensity. Changing too many factors at one time can lead to injury, so be careful to incorporate challenges slowly over time to try to avoid doing any harm to your feet or ankles.  

  • What things should you avoid doing to prevent injury? 

First, account for rest. Many people will try to push themselves everyday but will forget how important rest and recovery is for the body. Rest is as important as challenging your workouts is. It allows your tendons, ligaments, and muscles to repair.  

Other lifestyle factors can also impact your recovery including stress, sleep, and diet. It’s important to make sure you have a good balance in order to properly recover and be able to continue your progress.  

  • What are some training techniques you should incorporate into your regimen in order to avoid foot and ankle injury? 

It is recommended to combine long slow distance running with rest, running form, and balance. The prime factors for injury in sports, work or life are a change in body, a change in activity level, or a change in the surface level you operate on.  

Some things you should consider when calculating your 10% challenge include bodyweight, activity level, and where you are working out. As an example, you should be able to have an appropriate conversation with a buddy as you run miles at a time.  

  • Should you be practicing interval training? 

Interval training can be an effective way to change up or increase the intensity of your run. For example, you may jog for a long distance but at a certain point you may run slightly faster for a specific period of time or a specific distance (like from one mailbox to another). It’s important that you don’t run hard enough to hurt yourself, but just enough to challenge yourself.  

  • When should you increase your distance when running? 

You should follow the 10 percent rule and gradually work to meet your distance goal. Increasing by more than 10 percent can leave you at a greater risk for injury.  

  • What type of injuries can you sustain if you push yourself too hard while running? 

Many injuries that we see from overuse include stress fractures, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, ligament strains, and shin splints. If your body is becoming injured and you’re experiencing pain, you need to back away from training or at least lower the intensity of your runs in order to allow yourself to heal.  

  • Is form and core strength important for running long distances? 

Form is one of the things that runners neglect most often, however, it is extremely important to avoid injury. There are a few things you should consider regarding your form including how many strides per minute you’re taking, how long your stride length is, what is your level of impact, how much postural control you have, your arm swing, your center of gravity translation, balance, flexibility, and strength.  

  • What can you do to assess your running form? 

One way you can evaluate your running form is to record a video of yourself running (or have a friend do it for you). You can find some basic tips on running form from sites such as Runner’s World (https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a775995/how-to-perfect-your-running-form/), Marathon Handbook (https://marathonhandbook.com/proper-running-form/), and Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/proper-running-form).  

If you’re experiencing pain from running, make an appointment with an expert at Platte River Foot & Ankle Surgeons or a local podiatrist and bring in the video of yourself running. They may be able to help point out what specifically in your running form that is causing the injury.

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