Running is a great form of exercise. However, new runners are especially prone to injury.
Although it is said that up to 50% of new runners will get injured, it is possible to prevent common running injuries with some time and attention spent on stretching and strengthening. Having good flexibility at your hip, ankle, and foot as well as good hip strength is important in injury prevention. Learning good running mechanics and wearing the right running shoes can also make a big difference when it comes to injury prevention, so you are not sidelined during training.
Learn about how to prevent some of the most common running injuries below.
To prevent Achilles tendonitis, stretch and strengthen your ankle’s tendons. A simple standing calf stretch can assist you in having enough motion at the ankle to prevent increased load on your achilles.
Stand on a step and let your heels lower toward the floor keeping your knees straight to stretch your calves post-run for two minutes. To strengthen the calves, you can perform heel raises coming up onto your toes with both feet and then taking one foot away then slowly lowering your heel down repeating until you get that nice burn of fatigue in your calf muscle.
Sudden pain in the muscles in the back of your thighs may mean you may have a pulled hamstring. A pulled hamstring needs months of rest to heal.
Prevent a pulled hamstring and other leg muscle strains by doing a strengthening exercise called the bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Push your hips up using the force of your feet to create a bridge. Hold the position briefly and come down.
You can also work on hamstring strength using furniture sliders. Come up into the bridge position as instructed above, but this time have your heels on furniture sliders. Once you are up in the bridge you will straighten your knees slowly until your legs are straight and lower your buttocks to the floor. Now bend your knees with your feet on the sliders and you’re ready to repeat the exercise.
Plantar fasciitis is heel pain that hurts even when you’re lying down. It’s one of the most common running injuries for the foot. Plantar fasciitis is caused by your calf being too tight which then causes a compensation at your foot and ankle.
The best prevention is to stretch your calves as above and be sure to change to new shoes as they wear out during a training cycle. Wearing recovery sandals around the house after long training runs can be helpful as well.
This is an overuse injury involving the knee cap. This is usually caused by weakness in the hips in which our knee is allowed to collapse in during running or the knee is translating forward past your toe during running.
The bridge exercise described above as well as a side leg raise to strengthen your glutes can help prevent some of the mechanical faults described. To perform the side-lying leg raise, lay on your side against a wall. Raise your top leg up keeping your heel in contact with the wall then return the leg back down to its starting position. Repeat until you feel the burn of fatigue in the muscle at the top of your buttock.
Runners often get shin splints — an injury that causes pain that runs down the front of your lower leg. It can happen if you ramp up your mileage too quickly or after running your long run.
Prevent shin splints by gradually increasing your running time so you allow your body to adapt. Increasing the number of steps you take when running to help get your foot down closer to your body to reduce loads on your shin bone can help too.
We hope you keep these tips in mind – especially those currently preparing for the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon on Sunday, April 24. From the relay to 5k, to half or full marathon and kids, there is something for everyone in this race. There is still time to register if you’ve been training but have yet to sign up.
If you are experiencing pain that is greater than 3/10, pain is waking you at night or if pain has persisted for more than seven days, our Mercy Health — Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Team is here to help.