Running Injuries-Tips On How To Prevent Them

by Jennifer Boudreau on July 1, 2013

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Happy woman runningSeveral years ago my husband and I ran a full marathon together. Anyone who has run one will tell you that the 26.2 mile race is hard, but the training is even harder. The training is grueling and requires fierce discipline, but it is incredibly rewarding and worth every mile. I was fortunate to train and run the race while only having a minor flare-up of tendonitis in my knee. However, a short year later after beginning to run again, I would end up with an incredibly painful case of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the sole (bottom surface) of the foot. How did I get through a marathon with a simple flare-up only to get injured later while only running three miles a day?

It is simple; I got lazy and did not apply some simple running safety basics. With that being said, how do you prevent injury while running? Here are a few tips:

–         Wear the right shoes: Do not just pull an old, ratty pair of sneakers out of your closet, put them on and start running. Instead, head to a running specialty store. They will check the arch in your foot and possibly even have you run on a treadmill. They will watch your stride and check your natural tendencies, including your pronation (how you land on your heel). They will recommend the shoe that is best for you based on what they observe. If they charge an arm and a leg for the shoes they recommend, find them online and buy them for less.

Buy running shoes ½ to one size larger than your regular shoes. I personally buy one size up. This will give your toes plenty of room in the toe box so you do not end up with black toe nails due to bruising. Also, replace shoes every 300-500 miles and do not buy shoes based on looks. Typically the cuter they are the more expensive they are. Just because they are more expensive does not necessarily mean they are better.

–         Increase your mileage SAFELY: This is the first reason why I ended up injured; I ramped up my mileage too quickly. According to an article on Strength Running , if you are a beginner, you should start by running 1-4 miles per day, 2-3 days per week, for a period of 3-4 weeks. You can then gradually increase your mileage by 10%-25% per week, based on how your body feels. (example: run 10 miles one week followed by 11 miles the next)

–         Listen to your body: Many runners and exercise enthusiasts are convinced that pushing through injury makes them that much more committed. This is silly, irresponsible and will catch up with you sooner or later. Do not push through injuries. Many injuries will improve quickly if you simply take a break and heal. There are plenty of cross-training options available (i.e., cycling, elliptical, rowing machines, etc.) to do while you nurse an injury back to health.

–         Stretch: This is the second reason why I ended up injured. Do NOT skip it! I would typically run in the morning and then rush off to work without stretching. You always want to stretch warm muscles, so stretch right away once you finish your run. For some great runner’s stretches, checkout this article from SparkPeople.

Running is a great calorie burner and can certainly whip you in to shape quickly, but let’s face it; it can be very hard on your body. Apply these simple tips and you will hopefully accomplish your running goals injury free. Good luck!

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