9 Ways to Avoid Running Injury
- Prepare your body for running by walking.
If you’re a new runner or returning to running after a long hiatus, you’ll want to start slowly and condition your muscles with a regular walking program. Cross-training activities like swimming, rowing, or cycling will help with the cardiovascular aspect of running. But, walking will strengthen the muscles, joints, and tendons where running injury often occurs.
- Understand your body type and be patient.
For every pound of weight a person carries, they have four pounds on the knee when running.
- Follow a sensible training plan or find a coach.
Your training plan should consist of mostly easy days. The progression of a decent training plan accounts for rest in daily, weekly and monthly cycles. Remember that a generic plan is nothing more than a good suggestion. You can, and should, deviate from the plan if your body is sending you signals that something isn’t right. If you’re lucky enough to have a running coach, communicate openly about any concerns you have.
- Wear the right shoes.
There are all kinds of shoes out there. Find a pair that feels good on your feet and compliments your running style. Replace your shoes when they no longer feel good.
- Practice injury prevention.
Always warm up slowly for 10 minutes before running. Do some dynamic stretching before your runs and some static stretching after your runs. Foam roll tired muscles before and/or after runs. Ice and elevate any potential injury spots as soon as you feel them. Incorporate some strength training into your weekly routine to help strengthen your core and stabilize your body to prevent injury.
- Go off-road.
Just as variety is essential when it comes to the type of training you do, it’s also important in terms of where you run. On a flat, asphalt road, impact forces are channelled through exactly the same muscles, bones and joints with every step. Conversely, on a trail, there are varying levels of unevenness, gradient and a mix of softer and firmer areas. Every footstrike is subtly different from the last.Given that many marathons take place on the road, you should log some miles on asphalt but we recommend running ‘off-road’ at least half the time.
- Listen to your body
The key is distinguishing good pain, which shows you worked hard (and successfully overloaded the body), with bad pain, which shows you did something too hard, for too long, or did it badly. That’s why it is so important to listen to your body. If you have pain that causes a change in your running technique, lingers more than a day or two, or goes away between runs but comes back every time you run, or immediately after, you need to take a couple of days off running (maintain pain-free cross-training).
- Ease in gently.
By far the most common mistake among new runners is trying to achieve too much, too soon. Your runs should not feel like a near-death experience – run at a pace that feels comfortable and that gets you a little breathless and warm. If you need to mix bouts of walking and running, no problem.
- Follow the 10 percent rule.
The vast majority of running injuries are down to overuse and a result of doing too much too soon. The simplest way to avoid this to follow the 10 percent rule, i.e. increase your mileage or the intensity of your workout by no more than 10 percent a week. So, if you’re doing 10 miles in one week, the following week you can add on one mile.