Injury Prevention for Runners
By Ashley Johnson
If you consider yourself a runner or even enjoy a nice run through the park or on the treadmill now and then, you know that running can place a lot of stress on the body. While it’s healthy exercise and can make us feel great, it puts stress on our ankles, feet and bodies in general. Because of this, it can be an easy target for unwanted pain and injury. So, how can we continue doing this strenuous activity in a way that keeps our bodies protected and promotes injury prevention? There are a combination of actions we can take to keep our best full-body health in running.
1) Get Proper Footwear
The rules are a little all over the place when it comes to how often you should replace your running shoes, but a general rule of thumb is about every 500 miles. So, if you’re a runner, that can mean anywhere from 1 to 3 years. When you do go to pick your next pair of shoes, make sure you’re getting properly fitted (you can usually find shoe stores that offer this near you through a quick Google search) and that you’re getting shoes solely for the purpose of running. Your running shoes should be just that, while you have a different pair for walking and lifting weights.
2) Think About Your Whole Body
We often think about our knees, ankles and feet when running and while these are common pain points for runners, it’s important to think about them in the context of our whole bodies. Did you know that the alignment in our feet (and how we walk and run) affects the muscles and ligaments in our pelvis? Or that our pelvic floor muscles are directly attached to our hip muscles? Because we often compensate for our pain areas by shifting our focus to another area, one pain point can often lead to another. For example, avoidance of pain in the hip can strain the pelvic floor muscles leading to issues like leaking when running. This is why it’s important to see a physical therapist when you’re experiencing any pain with running or even when you’re ready to get started, so they can help you get to the root cause of the problem and prevent further injury.
3) Try To Avoid Overuse
Overuse is one of the most common causes for foot pain when running. Try to avoid this by implementing pre-run and post-run stretching and massage to warm up and cool down properly, start slow and increase distance and intensity slowly throughout your running journey. Running on a treadmill can also help prevent overuse injuries by allowing you to run at a smooth, steady pace and focus on your form. Some good general rules to keep in mind for proper running form include:
Adding flexibility and strength training into your routine can also help with pain and injury prevention for runners. The stronger and more resilient our muscles are, the better they respond when we’re using them with proper form. Try implementing these 3 tips before your next run or before beginning your running journey. If you’re experiencing pain, see a physical therapist for an initial evaluation to assess your pain points and your best course of action for moving forward and getting back to running pain free. Whether you’re just getting back into it, starting for the first time or are a seasoned runner, keeping these things top of mind will improve your running health and help prevent injury so you can keep doing what you love with a healthy mind and body.
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Cronkleton, E. (2020, January 27). Proper Running Form: Tips and Techniques to Run Better. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/proper-running-form#running-form.
Meet Your Therapist
Jessica has been in Austin, TX for the past four years. She grew up in Idaho and attended PT school at Idaho State University. She completed an Orthopaedic Residency and became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist in 2016.