How to Avoid Common Running Injuries

How to Avoid Common Running Injuries

By Nordic Balance

For thousands of people, it’s peak time to slip on their trainers and hit the road. We are all aware of the benefits of running. We can increase cardiovascular fitness and enhance feelings of wellness and relaxation. However, training errors can also predispose a runner to injuries such as IT Band syndrome, also known as Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendinopathy, and ankle sprains. To name just a few!


Common running injuries occur due to poor preparation, excessive mileage, hill running, hard surfaces and sudden increases in exercise frequency.


Our expert physiotherapist outlines some key tips on how to avoid common running injuries.


How to Avoid Common Running Injuries


Today, millions of individuals are running to keep fit, but more than 50% will sustain an injury as a result. Some of these can be minor sprains and strains, whilst others can be severe.


What’s more, minor injuries which are left untreated can become chronic and present long-term stress and discomfort.


As a therapist, it’s important to identify and diagnose injuries and educate a client about how to prevent these conditions best.


While the knee is the most common site of injury in runners, it is closely followed by the Achilles, shins, hip, groin, foot/ankle, and back.


Tips to Avoid Common Running Injuries

Make Sure to Stretch


When we run, the muscles repeatedly lengthen and shorten. When tight, they can cause pain and limit joint mobility over time.


An insufficient stretching programme without a warmup and cooldown has a negative effect. It places undue strain on joints and soft tissues, and the body cannot adapt. Injury then ensues.


Foam Rolling is another excellent way to reduce muscle soreness and improve range of motion, promoting blood flow and flexibility in tight thighs and calves.


Be Aware of the Running Surface


The appropriate running surface is an important aspect to consider. The ideal running surface is a soft, level dirt path. Running on uneven surfaces or hard ground such as concrete increases the shock transmitted through the feet and lower extremities.


Grass and sand can provide good cushioning for the feet; conversely, they can pose a risk as they are often uneven.


In addition, running on hills or a banked surface can cause the foot to flatten (overpronate) and increase the stress on the Achilles.


Running Posture


Running posture is also an essential element in the prevention of injury. Runners should maintain an upright position, where the torso remains perpendicular to the running surface.


The upper body and arms should be relaxed, the elbows bent to approximately 90 degrees, and the hands loose. Attempt to run with shorter steps; your strides shouldn’t be heavy.


Running Shoes


Footwear worn down or inappropriate to the individual’s foot shape can result in lower limb and back ailments.


Unsuitable trainers do not provide the adequate cushioning and stability that our feet rely on today; however, this is contrary to the concept of barefoot exercise.


Those who support barefoot running suggest that it can improve foot biomechanics and reduce injury risk, although scientific evidence in this area is lacking.


Due to years and years of wearing supportive footwear, the small intrinsic muscles in our feet have become weak and “lazy”. I, therefore, believe that strengthening these small muscles of the foot and leg is paramount to encourage optimal foot alignment and prepare us better to run barefoot.


When it comes down to it, a good shoe can help provide rigidity and prevent over-pronation (flat foot) or supination (high arch), which can put us at risk of injury.


Build Your Mileage Up Slowly


Another common cause of running injuries like Shin Splints is attempting to run too much too much suddenly.


Prepare a proper training plan that slowly helps you build the miles but also includes strength training for the core and glutes, like yoga, cross-training and swimming.


Listen to Your Body


How do you feel when your feet hit the ground? While challenging and pushing ourselves to reach new goals is essential, knowing when to rest is equally vital.


A certain level of discomfort is expected with long-distance running, but addressing sharp and chronic pain is essential.


Consider integrating a therapist into your running regime to get ahead of any potentially serious and long-term injuries.


For more guidance on overcoming common running injuries or to enhance performance, check out our 360 Degree Running Analysis at Nordic Balance St James’s.


About Nordic Balance

Nordic Balance offers 5-star-rated physiotherapy clinics in St James’s, Central London, Wimbledon and Clapham. For more information about the range of treatments, including physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry and sports massage, contact us.


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