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December 2021

Running Free: The Key Is Injury Prevention

Whether you run to win races, to train for another sport, to lose weight, or for the joy of it, running can be tough on your body. You can wind up with stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, and just plain sore feet and knees.

Each year up to 70% of runners develop injuries. But these training suggestions can help keep many injuries at bay:

  • Choose your running shoes carefully. Make sure they provide good shock absorption and strong support. Also look for good flexibility and traction. Make sure the heel area doesn’t slip as you move.  

  • Replace worn shoes. Be sure to get new ones after 250 to 500 miles of use. That’s about every 9 to 12 months if you run about 10 miles a week.

  • Run on a soft surface. Avoid running on a slanted surface. If you run on a track, switch directions for the second half of your run.

  • Warm up before you run and cool down afterward. Stretch both before and after you run. Include stretches for your Achilles tendons and the front (quadriceps) and back (hamstrings) of your thighs.

  • Use proper technique. Keep your body upright and shoulders and arms relaxed. Elbows should stay bent. For each step, your heel should touch the ground first, then the toe.

  • Try intervals. Start with walking and insert running intervals to build up your speed and distance over the course of many outings if you’re new to running.

  • Increase your running time, distance, and intensity gradually. Try to run twice a week or more. Don’t increase mileage more than 10% a week, and don’t go over 45 miles a week.

Despite doing everything you can to avoid one, you might still come down with an injury. These tips may help you recover:

  • Apply ice 4 to 8 times a day for 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice packs directly to the skin or for more than 20 minutes. Avoid using heat right after an injury.

  • Rest for 2 to 3 days. Don’t run through pain. Limit or stop other activities as needed. Reach out to your healthcare provider for advice, especially if discomfort lasts for a week.

  • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises. Your provider may refer you to a physical therapist who can provide an appropriate rehabilitation program, depending on your injury.

If you develop any recurring pain in your legs, knees, or feet from running, talk with your provider about treatment options.

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.