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Tips to Prevent Common Running Injuries

Running injuries are common issues part of running and with many runners. For runners who constantly focus on a time goal, speedwork, intense training sessions without adding regular slow runs in their schedule, that will cause some running injuries. Runners should not focus on:

  • Running Too Much

  • Running Long Distance Too Soon

  • Training and Running Too Hard

Unfortunately, many runners continue to run with an injury. And if we keep running with injuries, we might not be available to run for many weeks or even a few months. The goal for running should be to become a smarter runner. 9 Most Common Running Injuries In order to know how to prevent running injuries, it is important to know what the common running injuries are in the first place. Here are the 9 most common ones, along with their main causes and how we can prevent them.

1. Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is a common overuse injury that refers to knee pain at the front of the knee or around the kneecap. Runner’s knee is frequently associated with weakness or imbalance in the hips, glutes, the muscles around the knee, or tight quad. The result is pain below the knee cap. It can also be caused by IT Band syndrome. To focus on the knee issues is critical for recovery and avoiding future knee pain or injuries. It is also possible that it is a result of IT Band syndrome.

2. IT Band Syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome)

The iliotibial band, often known as the IT band, is a band of connective tissue that runs down the outside of our upper leg, linking our hip to our knee. IT band syndrome occurs when IT band becomes irritated or tight from overuse, poor running form or weak hips. The result is pain on the outside of the knee, along the leg or at the hip. Stretching the hip flexors, TFL, glutes and strengthening the core, as well as gradually increasing distance, can help treat and prevent IT band syndrome.

3. Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common running foot injury is plantar fasciitis. It is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from a lack of mobility in the big toe to stiffness and lack of flexibility in the calf muscles. Concentrating on mobility exercises can be an excellent method of preventing plantar fasciitis-related injuries.

4. Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury to the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles at the back of our lower leg to our heel bone. It is most common among runners who have dramatically increased the intensity or duration of their runs. But can also be caused by tight foot muscles, tight calf muscles or sprinting. Stretching our calf muscles is important to prevent this injury from occurring as it will make sure that too much of the burden isn’t transferred to the Achilles while we run. It’s also important to pay attention to the 10% rule, that is to increase weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week so that we don’t end up injuring ourself.

5. Shin Splints

Shin splint is an injury to the front or inner region of the calves, also known as the shins. Shin splints are an overuse injury that can occur as a result of quickly increasing our training load. Shin splints are a precursor to a stress fracture, so the best action if we suspect we have shin splints is to reduce our training and focus on rest and recovery.

6. Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring injuries can be caused by hamstrings that are fatigued or weak. This kind of injury is often a result of small, repetitive tears in the hamstring. If our hamstrings are weak, we should add strength training to our routine to reduce the chances of injury.

7. Stress Fractures

A stress fracture is a major running injury caused by the repetitive impact of running. It happens when a small crack forms in the bone. For runners, this is most common in the upper foot bones, the heel bones, and the lower leg bones. Correcting our running form, gradually increasing our weekly kilometres and intensity, eating adequately, and using proper running shoes can help prevent stress fractures. If we feel we have a stress fracture, we should get an X-Ray right away.

8. Ankle Strain

Ankle strains occur when we overstretch the tendons and ligaments in our ankle. Most runners assume this only occurs if we twist or roll the ankle while running. Since twisting and rolling our ankle is typically a sign of ankle weakness, strengthening the muscles around our ankles can help us avoid ankle injuries. However, overuse and poor foot landing is a common cause of ankle pain in runners.

9. Runner’s Toe

Runner’s toe happens when our toenail turns black from the stress of running. When our toe repeatedly rubs on or slams into our shoe, it can cause stress to our nail. This leads to bleeding under our nail, which starts to look black. We can prevent it by wearing shoes that fit properly, as tight shoes can lead to developing runner’s toes. It’s also a good idea to keep our toenails short, and to tie our shoes correctly so that our feet don’t slide inside our shoes. Top Tips for Running Injury Prevention Now that we know what the most common injuries are for runners, let’s look at the top tips we should follow to prevent getting injured.

1. Avoid Overtraining

Running injuries are frequently caused by overtraining. Overtraining occurs when our body is unable to keep up with the physical demands that we put on it. We should focus on the long game and stick to the training plan we’re following. In case we’re not on any specific plan, we should make sure to not increase our weekly kilometres by more than 10% each week. Also, rest days are part of long term progress.

2. Pay Attention to Your Body Signals

Understanding the signals our body is good to prevent running injuries. One of the most important things is to understand the difference between running discomfort and running pain. Once we learn this, it’s easier to know when to stop versus when to push through. If we start to feel an ache or something is changing our stride, we should address it right away, also to look at our shoes.

3. Use Physical Therapy for Pre-Hab

Turns out physical therapy isn’t just for injuries, it’s actually one of the keys to prevent them. PT focuses on adding good movement patterns and strengthening, especially weak areas like the hips and glutes, 5 minutes daily of quick PT exercises can prevent injuries, and improving our running form.

4. Wear Shoes That Fit Right

One of the most important things to make sure that while running to prevent injury is to wear shoes that fit right. Our shoes should be made for running and should be the right fit for our foot type. Running shoes generally need to fit slightly differently than our everyday casual shoes. They should provide enough room for our toes to spread out and grab the ground when we run, and also have enough space for our foot to swell as we keep going. Wearing shoes that don’t fit right is one of the most common ways of getting injured, so we need to make sure that ours fit right for our feet.

5. Warm Up Before You Run

Dynamic Warm Ups are super-efficient to activate our muscles. Warming up correctly before exercise is an effective strategy to avoid muscle-related injury. The use of a dynamic stretching exercise before running helps our body to move more naturally when we run, and it will prepare our ankles, knees, and hips for the demands of a run. Some studies have shown it can allow us to run longer distances easier, and benefits of injury prevention by ensuring we’re working with warm muscles ready to perform.

6. Try Foam Rolling

Another great way to take care of our body is foam rolling. A foam roller is a simple self-massage tool that can help increase flexibility, break up knots, reduce myofascial adhesions, and loosen us up before or after running. Foam rolling can be challenging at the start, but once we start regularly we will find some more pleasure in the discomfort. And after doing the foam rolling session a few times, it will feel more comfortable. Regardless, it’s super important to take time after each run or at least at the end of the day to work and stretch our muscles.

7. Commit to Consistent Strength Training

Strength training is possibly the best injury prevention technique for runners. Strength training helps runners build muscles and connective tissues that stabilize the joints and reduces the chance of not just muscle-related injuries, but also joint ones. By strengthening our muscles and core, we’re allowing our body to run more efficiently and reduce pressure on overworked muscles.

8. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

One of the great things about running is that it tends to make us want to balance our fake foods love with healthier options that will fuel our running properly. A huge component or training is learning to eat in a way that helps our body recover quicker between sessions. Not only focusing on eating enough, but eating foods that provide all the nutrients our muscles need to strengthen and recover. As an athlete we’re asking more of our body, which means focusing on replenishing it.

9. Check Your Running Form

As we begin increasing our training distances, the body gets tired and it’s really natural for our form to start to deteriorate. But as we begin to slouch or let our arms cross the body, it throws off our entire stride. This causes extra stress on muscles in ways they weren’t designed to handle which ultimately leads to strains or overuse.

10. Follow the 10% Rule

One of the most common causes of running injuries is when runners increase their training load, that is their intensity or kilometres too quickly. If we finish workouts feeling good, that’s not a bad thing or a sign we need to go harder. This is where the 10% rule comes in to help prevent training load-related injuries. According to the rule, we should only increase our training by 10% each week compared to the previous week. Even though it is just a guide, the 10% rule lets our body recover and adapt to keep up with the demands of our training without getting hurt from overuse. But we should also listen to our body, for any type of runners, beginners, fast speed, or long-distance runners, sometimes even to increase our weekly run by 10% could cause some body damage.

11. Focus on Rest and Recovery

When we get enough sleep, our body is able to recover in time for our next training session. Otherwise, insufficient sleep increases the risk of deterioration of our form, fatigue and frustration with a lack of progress. According to a study in 2021, seven to nine hours of sleep is ideal and we might need more as an athlete. We will make good progress during the recovery. Stress + Rest = Growth

12. Slow Down on Your Easy Runs

One of the other great things we learn during an injury is that it’s important to enjoy all the kilometres. The slow one’s, the speedy intervals, the hard one’s, the one’s we barely finish and the one’s that prove runners high is so real. Slowing down on many of our runs means we aren’t over taxing the body, so we can keep enjoying better speed workouts without injury or over training. Easy runs are the bread and butter of training, but if we’re running them too hard then we are overtaxing the body. That means we aren’t getting the aerobic endurance building of an easy run and we aren’t getting the anaerobic fast twitch benefits of a speed workout. It is crucial to keep easy days easy, so we can keep running consistently. What To Do If You Are Injured As a precaution, it’s a good idea to reduce our exercise load until we have a better understanding of our injury. It is generally advised that we search for medical assistance in the form of:

  • Our doctor

  • A sports physician

  • A specialized running physiotherapist

Focus On Training According To Your Body So You Can Prevent Running Injuries, Enjoy Nice Regular Runs!