If you’re passionate about distance running, you know that preventing injury is crucial. It’s almost unheard of among avid runners to have no injuries at one point during their running career. Despite this, you love running and will push through almost anything to continue. In this blog you can read about running injury prevention strategies.
There are so many physical and mental benefits of running. It can be a community-building activity, a way to challenge yourself personally, and most importantly an excellent workout. It is a sport that everyone can participate in; all you need is a good pair of shoes and a little motivation.
That being said, running frequently can be extremely hard on your body. This is especially true when you’re just starting. From shin splints to plantar fasciitis, to ankle sprains no one is immune from getting hurt. In this piece, I’m going to cover 4 running injury prevention strategies to keep you healthy so you can continue hitting the pavement, trails, or treadmill.
1. Track Your Running Distance
If you’re just starting running or maybe just picking it up again, you’ll find you can make significant progress in a short period of time in the beginning. It’s human nature for us to recognize the progress and push ourselves even further by increasing distance and intensity. This is a great way to challenge yourself, but its important that you understand your body has a threshold that when exceeded results in injury.
You can avoid exceeding this threshold by tracking your mileage on both a daily and weekly basis. If you’re new to long-distance running, then your weekly mileage should begin quite low. As you continue to run, it’s important that your mileage increases gradually.
As a new runner, start with short runs and accumulate miles through the week. It is important to track how far you have been running, so I recommend using an app on your phone such as Runkeeper to help track each run.
2. Gradually Increase Running by 10%
A consensus among the running community is the rule of 10%. Do not increase your mileage by any more than 10% on a week to week basis. For many runners and new runners specifically, 10% may even be too much of a jump. This is why when you’re preparing for a distance race like a 10k, half marathon, or marathon it is recommended you start as early as possible. This allows for the gradual increase in mileage. Could you train and complete a half marathon in 6 weeks? Maybe, but if you’re deconditioned or just starting running then the toll it could take on your body and the injury risks are likely not worth it.
A recent study showed that runners who only increased their mileage by 3% a week had a much higher rate of success in their upcoming races than runners who ramped up their mileage quicker. So really, increasing by 10% is plenty aggressive. There are a number of online training tools and services that can help you plan your training strategy.
Hal Higdon is a really well-known coach in the running world for coaching.
Jumper’s knee is a common condition that develops in runners due to repetitive motion. Although you’re not “jumping” while running, your quadriceps muscles are involved in each stride. Here are a few exercises to help with quadriceps tendonitis.
IT Band Syndrome is probably the most common complaint in frequent runners. If you want to try some IT band exercises at home to help with lateral knee pain, this video has some good ones to start with.
3. Learn Body Awareness
As you gradually increase your miles, you HAVE TO to listen to your body, we call this body awareness. Some of us are really in-tune with our bodies and notice little changes and differences. If you’re someone who exercises regularly you probably have decent body awareness.
If you find that you are feeling fine after running 20 miles a week but when you increase it to 23 miles in a week you have pain, you may have to dial back to 20 miles/week before increasing more gradually. It pays to be body aware and you’ve got a better chance at hitting your goals if you can learn to be disciplined in this way.
4. Don’t Run Through Significant Pain, PLEASE!
As runners, we all understand some level of discomfort is a part of the sport. In a strange way, it may be what keeps us wanting to run more. Some runners learn to love the soreness. Your legs and feet will likely be sore after the long run, however, if you begin to notice significant pain or discomfort while running you should consider taking a break.
Breaks are one of the hardest things to convince yourself to do, but it could save you from a more severe injury. Aside from the periodic ankle sprain, very few running injuries are acute and traumatic. Far more commonly runners ignore the pain and “tough it out” when pain sets in.
Eventually, this can result in a “cumulative injury cycle.” This means that if you continue to stress an injury by running, you may make it worse and the injury will become more significant. Sometimes all it takes is an extra day off when you’re experiencing mild symptoms to allow your body to recover. This is important because if you do have an injury, it is common for your body to adapt to it by altering your gait (running pattern.)
A poor gait can zap your efficiency, cause you to develop bad running habits, or in the worst-case scenario cause an injury elsewhere in your body. Remember, your body works as an integrated system, so if you are running awkwardly the biomechanical stresses may translate to another location on your body. Give your body a chance to recover.
Do you suspect you have IT band pain from frequent running? We discuss this condition and what chiropractic for IT band pain can do in our blog here: Chiropractor for IT Band Pain
If you have pain in the front of your hip from running, it could be your psoas muscle that’s painful. Read about symptoms of psoas pain and how chiropractic can help psoas pain in our blog here: Psoas Pain Symptoms
Chiropractic for Runners
Whether you’re dealing with an injury or just trying to avoid one, doing some body maintenance can be beneficial if you’re a frequent runner. Chiropractors are a great asset for runners, and our Cary chiropractors have helped patients all across the running spectrum from those running 5 miles a week to a patient running an ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert.
Chiropractic care and rehab can help you correct a poor running pattern, relieve joint stiffness and pain, or fix muscle tightness, imbalance, or injury in order to stay running. It is much more beneficial to have an injury taken care of with a few treatment sessions rather than letting it persist and dealing with it when it’s more serious and your recovery time is extended. Avoiding injury through body maintenance is even better.
If you’re a runner, take the step to do some body maintenance. Schedule an appointment and talk about your goals and what we can do to help. We understand you want to get or stay active and chiropractic care can help you do that.