Running injuries can interfere with your ability to train effectively.

How to prevent running injuries?

Running is a great cardiovascular exercise with a myriad of benefits including reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing quality of life. It is also one of the best ways to maintain fitness as most competitive long distance runners continue running after their competing years are over. 

For all its benefits running also comes with a high risk of injury.

The incidence of running injuries is estimated to be as high as 79% and about 25% of runners are injured at any given time. This can lead to cessation of training and loss of progress which can be very frustrating. These injuries are most commonly made up of lower limb soft tissue injuries and stress fractures due to overuse.

This has a significant impact on our society in the form of medical costs, and decreased individual health and wellness. It is clear that this is a problem we should be paying more attention to. Can we prevent running injuries, and if so how do we do it? 

The first step in preventing running injuries is to identify risk factors. Some risk factors can predispose runners to a risk of injury. They can be organized into four categories: systemic factors, lifestyle factors, running/training factors, and health factors.

Running injuries can have a negative impact on your training.

Training factors can be further broken down into speed, frequency, shoe choices, history of injuries, experience, weekly mileage, and training surface. Some of these risk factors like age (systemic factor) or previous history of injury (health factor) are out of our control.

Other risk factors can be modified and controlled to try to prevent injury like frequency and intensity of training.

Potential interventions to prevent injury include: exercises, training modifications, orthoses (shoe inserts and knee braces), and footwear/sock interventions.

Should I stretch before I run?

This is one of the most common questions about running. Multiple studies have shown that regular stretching before running does not lower risk of lower limb injuries! T

his means stretching before you run will not help prevent an injury, in fact some studies show a small increase in risk of injuries for those who stretch before they run. 

Should I stretch after I run?

Yes! There is some evidence to support that stretching after a run decreases risk of injury! Be sure to hold the stretch between 20 and 60 seconds for optimal effect.

Should I warm up?

This topic is currently debated in the literature. Some studies show no decrease risk of injury with runners who warm up.

Athletes in other sports (such as handball) who warm up do show a decrease in lower extremity injury risk. Research also shows that warming up prior to activity increases performance. Taking all this information into consideration there is very little risk to warming up prior to running and the benefits could be significant. 

Is there something wrong with my running form?

This could be a problem but is a very complex one! Every individual has an optimal running form perfect for their own anatomy, strengths, and weaknesses.

That being said poor foot pronation and knee valgus has been linked to injury in runners. A health professional can help identify poor running mechanics and give proper advice to fix the problem.

Is my unique anatomy causing me to be at a higher risk of injury? 

This can often be the case. Certain anatomical variations like high foot arches can predispose runners to knee pain! Don’t be body shamed, health providers can prescribe foot strengthening exercises as well as foot orthoses to try to combat this problem.

Are my muscles not strong enough?

This can also cause running injuries! One study showed that weak hip muscles can cause hip pain and increasing hip strength caused a resolution of symptoms.

Consulting with a health professional like one of our chiropractors can help identify areas of weakness and what you can do to strengthen these problem areas. 

Feet injuries can interfere with running.Should I do eccentric exercises?

Eccentric exercises are a commonly used method to treat many running injuries like achilles tendinopathies, however there is no evidence to support that eccentric exercises prevent running injuries. These kinds of exercises may help avoid running injuries however at this time we can't be sure. 

Should I wear Orthotics?

Orthotics have been shown to be effective for many running associated injuries like PFPS and pes cavus.

A health professional can have custom orthotics made to combat your specific biomechanical problems. Patients with custom orthotics report a high rate of  subjective satisfaction.

Is It my running shoes fault?

There is significant debate on the existence of a “correct” or “optimal” shoe because every individual foot is unique and every running style is different. Some basic principles to follow is be sure to have your shoes properly fitted and replace running shoes after about 6 months or 500 kilometers.

Finally when trying on shoes pick the shoe that is most comfortable! Studies have shown that shoes that an individual finds comfortable result in decreased injury rate. This is most likely because shoes that feel comfortable to us will address our personal biomechanical and anatomical needs. Trust your feet!

Is barefoot running the best way to run?

This is a popular new concept in the world of running. While there is some evidence to suggest that barefoot running decreases risk of injury by causing lower impact midfoot to forefoot strike running patterns there is also a suggested increase risk of developing a stress fracture due to lack of cushioning.

Any easy rule to follow is to approach barefoot running slowly and incrementally. This means only running barefoot for small intervals to reduce risk of stress fracture and be sure to strengthen the foot over time.

Is there a problem with my training?

This is the most important question with the strongest evidence to support the answer! It is estimated that about 60% of running injuries are due to errors in training! Remember training errors are errors in speed, frequency or running, running shoes, history of injuries, running experience, weekly mileage, and training surface.

Am I running too much too soon?

One of the most common reasons for injury is excessive mileage accounting for about 30% of running injuries. Weekly mileage greater than 40 miles is associated with a higher risk of injury in men (the research is conflicting in women). When beginning a training program start small and build up incrementally.

 

Is my training schedule not consistent enough?

Erratic training schedules can Increase the risk of running injuries. This means suddenly changing the weekly distance or type of training (hills or interval training) can increase injury risk. 

Does the surface I am running on matter?

There is no evidence to support that harder surfaces increase injury rates in men. In females running on concrete caused an increase in running injuries. 

Am I running too fast?

There is no association with running speed and injury. Some articles recommend increasing running speed as a way to prepare the body before increasing running distance. 

 

What does this all mean? (TL;DR)

 

  1. Trust your feet! An easy way to reduce risk of running injury is to wear shoes that are properly fitted, comfortable for you and replace them around every 6 months. 
  2. Be Active! Warm up before you run, stretch after, and be sure to maintain your lower limb strength by doing resistance training. 
  3. Slow and steady wins the race! Keep a consistent running schedule and increase distance slowly and incrementally over time. 
  4. Trust the pro’s! Consult with a health specialist like a chiropractor to get advice on running mechanics, training programs, and orthotics. 


Are you experiencing running injuries? Give the team at Human Integrated Performance a call and we'll get you back out there ASAP!Contact Our OfficeReferences

Fields, Karl B., et al. "Prevention of running injuries." Current sports medicine reports 9.3 (2010): 176-182.

Nigg, Benno M., et al. "Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms:‘preferred movement path’and ‘comfort filter’." British Journal of Sports Medicine 49.20 (2015): 1290-1294.

 

 
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