Home » Blog » Knee Pain » How to Prevent Running Injuries

If you’re a runner, you’re well aware that pounding the pavement may be taxing on your body. A running injury, such as a runner’s knee or shin splints, might undermine your training or, worse, take you out during the first leg of a competition for which you’ve trained for months.

However, you can help to improve your chances. Here are things you can do to reduce your risks of getting wounded, whether you’re a novice or an expert.

How to Avoid Five Common Running Injuries?

Knee Injury

Knee injuries afflict 30% of runners and are caused by soft tissue mobility, strength, and flexibility concerns. So, what are my options? Stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees and the muscles in your hips and hamstrings is an important aspect of getting ready for a run.

Shin Splints

This injury is most likely to occur during the first few weeks of training. Shin splints are common among high school runners and those who took a break before returning to running. Overtraining is the source of the injury, and rest is essential to avoid further injuries. To prevent injury, increase hip, calf, and ankle flexibility.

IT Band Syndrome

The IT band is a fibrous band that runs around the outside of the knee and provides support. The second most prevalent injury among runners is IT band syndrome. The muscles that control stability, particularly the hips and glutes, must be strengthened. Improving balance can also be highly beneficial. Exercises like lunges, leg raises, and bridges can be done with a foam roller. Yoga and pilates, on the other hand, can aid with flexibility and strength.

Achilles Tendinitis

Hill runners and sprinters are prone to this injury. Swelling and soreness around the tendon are two of the symptoms. Flexibility, balance, and strength all play a role here. Rest and apply ice to your Achilles tendon if you have it. Stretching the calf and heel might also assist. What kind of workouts should you do? Calf lifts and toe-to-wall stretches are two exercises to try.

Plantar Fasciitis

Running’s repeated nature causes this injury, which typically affects people who have already hurt their feet. Rest is essential in this situation. Stretching your feet and toes might also help you deal with the pain. You can deal with the weight-bearing pressure of the damaged foot by using compression socks and correct footwear.

Should You Run When Injured?

The answer to this question is contingent on the severity of your injury. Every one of us is unique. It’s important to emphasize, however, that you shouldn’t make this decision on your own. Before you run while injured, see a doctor. “Yes, if your doctor says so,” is the answer to this question.

How to Prevent Running Injuries from Happening?

While you may not be able to avoid running injuries altogether, there are some steps you can take to reduce their frequency and severity. Overuse, overtraining, wearing the wrong shoes, or a biomechanical flaw in body structure and motion are the most common causes of running injuries. The good news is that a lot of running-related injuries can be avoided.

Overtraining

Overtraining is the cause of many running injuries. Adding too much intensity, too many miles, and too soon is not a good idea. When increasing your training mileage or intensity, it’s crucial to take it slowly.

How to Prevent

You should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week as a general rule. You can continue to push your limits, but you’ll need to do so gradually and patiently. You can avoid pain and frustration while still achieving your goals if you build up gradually. Allow common sense and a well-planned training schedule to guide you in determining how much running you should do. 

Improper Footwear

Ensure your shoes aren’t worn out and that you’re wearing the correct model for your feet and running style. The wrong shoe can alter your gait, resulting in injury or aggravate existing problems, causing pain in your feet, legs, knees, or hips. Injuries can also be caused by wearing old shoes that have lost their cushioning.

How to Prevent

Replace your running shoes every 350-500 miles at a specialty running store where you can be properly fitted. If your feet have a biomechanical issue, you should consider getting fitted for heel lifts or orthotics.

Hard Running Surface

Once you’ve found the right shoes, you’ll want to make sure you’re running on the best surface possible. Instead of passing the shock to your legs, you want the ground to absorb it.

How to Prevent

Avoid concrete as much as possible because it is ten times harder than asphalt and is a terrible running surface. Especially for your longer runs, look for grass or dirt trails to run on.

Consistency is also crucial. A sudden switch to a different running surface can result in injuries. If you’re used to running on wooded trails and then switch to running on neighborhood sidewalks, you might experience some aches and pains. Also, tight turns, such as those found on concise running tracks, should be avoided. If at all possible, seek out running paths that are either straight or have slow curves.

Tight, Inflexible Muscles

Many runners don’t think of stretching as an important part of their training, but it should be. Your muscles can become very tight, especially when putting in mega miles for marathon training or intense speed work to improve your pace. Because of the soreness or tightness in your joints, your gait may change, and injury may result.

How to Prevent

A regular stretching routine can aid injury prevention. After your run, be sure to stretch thoroughly. After each workout, just 5–10 minutes can make a big difference.

Additionally, regular massage or the use of a foam roller or other massage tool can help runners eliminate post-run tightness. 

Muscular Imbalances

Injuries can occur when you focus solely on your running muscles and ignore the importance of supporting muscles.

Some runners, for example, have very tight hip flexors as a result of overtraining their quadriceps muscles (on the front of the thigh). You can create balance in the lower body and reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the hamstrings (on the back of the thigh).

How to Prevent

To make a difference, you don’t need to lift a lot of weight. Two to three times a week, try to do 15 minutes of bodyweight exercises. To achieve balance and stability in your body, concentrate on the gluteal muscles, abductors and adductors, and core muscles. This small investment can go a long way toward preventing injuries. 

Heel Striking

When your feet land in front of your hips during each step, this is known as heel striking. This means that your heel is the first to touch the ground. Heel striking is a common injury among new runners, and it can cause shin splints and joint pain.

Because braking occurs with each step, heel striking is a less efficient way to run. Furthermore, a recent study discovered that runners who strike the ground with their forefeet first suffer from fewer knee injuries than those who strike with their heels first.

How to Prevent

It would help if you aimed to land in the middle of your foot. Every step should be focused on landing mid-sole, with your foot directly beneath your body. Keeping your stride short and close to the ground requires a short, low arm swing. As if you’re stepping on hot coals, keep your steps light and quick. It will become easier and more natural as you practice landing mid-sole.

Improper Foot Orientation

Runners who run with their feet pointed out or are more prone to ankle and knee problems. When running, try to avoid twisting or sideways motion by keeping your feet and legs moving straight forward.

How to Prevent

Make an effort to run in a straight line with your feet parallel to one another. Your ankles and knees will be less rotated or twisted as a result. Running with your feet pointing straight can feel unnatural at first for those whose feet are naturally pointed in or out. Continue to try it for short periods during your runs, and you’ll get used to it.

Poor Posture

Staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed are important aspects of good upper body form. Not only will you have more difficulty breathing if your shoulders hunch over (because your chest is compressed), but your lower back may begin to ache during or after your run.

How to Prevent

Maintaining a good posture while running is easier with a strong core, so make sure you include some core exercises in your training. Perform a pose check every mile or so while running. Raise your shoulders to your ears, then lower them to their natural resting position.

Head Tilt

Especially near the end of a long run, your head may feel heavy. However, if you don’t hold it properly, you might have issues. Your neck muscles are strained if your head is tilted too far back. Neck and back pain can result from leaning your head forward too far. It can also constrict your chest, making it difficult to breathe.

How to Prevent

Your head should be directly above your shoulders and hips. Simply being aware of proper placement during your run may assist you in making adjustments. However, if you believe your running form could use some improvement, you should seek advice from a physical therapist or a running coach. To correct some muscle weaknesses or imbalances, you may need some intervention with targeted exercises.

Conclusion

Running injuries can be upsetting and time-consuming to deal with, but if you don’t treat them seriously, they can keep you from training for months, if not years. Consult a professional if you’re unsure. Make an appointment with your primary care physician or a physical therapist who specializes in running injuries.

To avoid re-injury, gradually return to training by swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical trainer. When it’s safe to resume running, consult your doctor or physical therapist. Overtraining is the leading cause of injury, so keep in mind that improvement takes time.