Running-Related Injuries: Prevention Tips

What causes running-related injuries?

Training Error is number one. That is running too far, too fast, or too often. Reports indicate that 60-70% of runners develop an injury each year.  Walkers don't begin to approach this level of injury. Why? It's all about ground reaction force. While you are running the impact forces and stresses on your muscles, joints and tendons can be up to seven times greater than your actual body weight. Your body can adapt to this, but you need to give it the appropriate amount of time to do so.

How can you avoid an overuse injury?

  1. Keep track of your training. Remember, you can only increase your running time, distance, or intensity by 10% per week MAXIMUM.
  2. Avoid running on slanted or crowned surfaces. If you must run on roads, try to get off onto the shoulder or grass whenever you can.
  3. Do not run more than 45 miles per week. The incidence of injury increases with runners cresting this high mileage mark. You are almost asking for an overuse injury in this mileage zone.
  4. Change your running shoes every 350-450 miles. It is very difficult to determine if your shoes are worn.  Going by the wear on the tread is not a good indication.  Most shoes have breakdown in the cushioning components long before the tread of the shoe is worn. Some with soft EVA foam cushioning (typically white) can leave indications of wear. Look for small horizontal lines in the foam that indicate breakdown. Compare to a new pair in a store to see the difference.
  5. Respect pain. Do not ignore what your body is trying to tell you. If you have pain that recurs with your runs, seek the advice of a physical therapist, sports medicine physician, or other professional. Overuse injuries are much easier to treat and eradicate when they are just starting.
  6. If you are running 3 or more days per week, you need to be running SLOW on at least one day and FAST on the other day(s). Many runners will always work at a speed somewhere in between. This limits your ability to maximize the training effect (getting faster or in 'better shape') and increases the likelihood of overuse injury.
  7. Perform regular strength training exercises to keep your low back, abdominals, hips, and legs in proper form for running. 

This material is intended to provide general educational information and to help users arrange more easily for health care services. This site is not an attempt to practice medicine or provide specific medical advice and should not be used to make a diagnosis or to replace or overrule a qualified health care provider's judgment. Nor should users rely upon this information if they need emergency medical treatment. We strongly encourage users to consult with a qualified health care professional for answers to personal questions.

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