Running injuries are one of the most common types of injuries we see in patients at Results PT. From knee injuries to foot injuries, we’ve seen it all. While research shows as many as half of all runners will receive some sort of injury during their lifetime, the good news is that there are several ways to help prevent running injuries.
If we had to pick one piece of advice to impart for preventing running injuries, it would be to choose the proper type of footwear. While your foot type will play a role in knowing which running shoes are the best fit for you, your running style and surface preference should also be considered. Here’s a guide to some of the most common types of running shoes.
You may have seen the latest craze in running technology and wondered what benefits one can expect from wearing barefoot-style running shoes, the equivalent of gloves for your feet. There are runners who swear by these, and evidence suggests they may in fact prevent injuries. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to gradually train your feet and body to become accustomed to running in these types of shoes. While running in barefoot-style running shoes can strengthen the muscles in your feet and legs, it’s not idea to push yourself as you build strength and stamina. Start out by wearing them around the house or on quick runs so you can monitor your progress to prevent your joints and muscles from becoming overworked.
Does your foot ever feel as though it rolls inward during exercise or a long run? Stability running shoes can help prevent too much movement during exercise, which in turn lessens your likelihood of sustaining a food injury. Stability running shoes also provide added cushioning for support, so they’re a great option for those who overpronate, or roll their feet while running. Overpronation should be avoided with proper running shoes in order to prevent uneven weight distribution which can lead to injury or soreness.
Motion control shoes offer extra support and protection for serious runners who are flat-footed or those who run often and need rigid support to protect their feet from breaks and tears. Like stability running shoes, motion control running shoes are great for individuals with overpronation. To avoid overpronation, choose shoes that have thick and rigid material that prevents too much movement.
Neutral running shoes, also known as cushioned running shoes, are ideal for runners who do not overpronate and need the additional support of a rigid outer core. Neutral running shoes often include a small amount of cushion - not too much, and not too little - so that movement can be achieved while supporting the foot in the ideal places.
Strength training is beneficial for runners for two specific reasons: building strength through bone density and muscle growth and improving speed through muscle coordination and stability. In addition to utilizing the right equipment, incorporating strength training into your exercise routine can help prevent running injuries by creating density in the bones, which decreases your chances of a break as well as osteoporosis.
Don’t be put off by the idea of gaining weight or muscle mass through strength training. Runners can build strength and gain support by strengthening their connective tissues and tendons without ever bulking up, so you don’t have to worry about being slower on the trail or the road. In fact, you may even become faster. The best way to build strength is through cross-training. A variety of exercises that focus on all parts of the body are ideal. Workouts that target your core and your arms are just as efficient as those that target your knees and legs for gaining balance and strength throughout the body.
Knee injuries are by far the most common injuries runners sustain. If you’re carrying more than your ideal weight, then your knees are subjected to even more pressure. That’s why caring for your knees is essential for preventing breaks and tears. A few ways to relieve pressure in your knees include:
You’ve most likely already been incorporating some pre-run stretching into your day, but did you know that stretching can be beneficial long before or even after a run at preventing injuries? Stretching increases flexibility and encourages balance and movement which can prevent cramps and tears. Stretching is also known to be a stress reliever that releases endorphins that can increase productivity and encourage positive thoughts and mental awareness. Take five minutes to stretch in the mornings shortly after waking up, and complete a series of target stretches before and after your run to loosen those muscles and encourage blood flow.
If you’re a serious runner, or if you’re training for a marathon, creating a team of running experts who can help you create a routine is one of the best ways to ensure your technique and form are ideal for preventing injuries.
Whether you’ve been running for ten years or ten days, a running coach can help you identify and meet your personal goals, help you choose the right running shoes and training equipment for your body, keep you motivated when you need encouragement or a confidence boost, and provide tips on how to get the most out of your runs. A running coach can help perfect your form so you can run as fast and as graceful as possible. He or she can also work with you to determine the best running speed to fit your skill set and preference and offer ways to help you create gradually increasing challenges that build strength and stamina without causing injuries.
Working with a physical therapist in conjunction with a running coach will help you prevent injuries and provide you with a trained professional who can identify ways to recover after a run or prepare for a marathon. A physical therapist can also help treat sore and achy muscles and joints. He or she can also help you understand which injuries you are more prone to so you can take the proper precautions to prevent them.
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So what happens if you’ve taken all of the proper precautions and you still sustain a running injury? Give yourself the best chance at a speedy recovery by following these tips to help get you back on track and ready to run sooner rather than later.
This one seems pretty straight-forward, but it’s worth mentioning that you should stay off of your feet as long as you are able if you have a foot or knee injury. Walking on the injured area can exacerbate tears and breaks, and it can also cause swelling and inflammation which can lead to even more pain. Take it easy for as long as possible and trust that your body will let you know when it’s time to resume normal activity.
Once you’re ready to get back on the road, or the trails, take it slow. Don’t push your body too hard, and remember that you may not be able to run as long or as fast as you were before your injury. This is perfectly normal, and you can work to regain your strength and stamina in time. Keep in mind that the goal is not to return to your pre-injury stats or record as soon as possible, but to heal as quickly and efficiently as possible, and that means knowing how to gradually ease yourself back into a running routine that works with your body’s current needs and abilities.
Scheduling a consultation with a physical therapist or running coach can help you understand the extent of your injuries. A physical therapist can also give you an idea of how long you can expect for recovery and healing, and he or she can work with you to create individualized exercises to help target your problem areas.