Over the course of your life time as a runner, you are likely to get hurt. That’s because running puts your body through a lot of stress. Of course, it’s not the actual act of running that’s a problem—it’s really more about how and how often you train, especially when it comes to chronic injuries (problems that build up over time. They are different from acute injuries that come on suddenly due to a specific incident, like tripping over a branch and spraining your ankle.)
While there’s not much you can do to prevent accidental running injuries, there are a lot of steps you can take to prevent chronic problems. Just read on for the smartest ways to protect your body from running injuries.
4 Runner’s Risks (And How to Overcome Them)
Any of these common runner’s problems could cause injury, but smart training can keep you safe and injury free:
1. Overdoing Increases
So many runners ‘run’ into trouble when they try to quickly increase the speed or distance of their training. Quick leaps don’t give your body time to adjust to the additional stress. To avoid overload injuries due to increases, be careful as you work towards new goals. If you’re trying to run faster, work up to your new speed in several increments. And be sure to decrease your mileage while you’re building speed. Working on distance? Do the opposite: slowly add to the length of your runs (about 10% increases each week.) And, while you’re adjusting to longer runs, slow your pace down until our body adapts to the extra time on the road.
2. Just Running
You can’t allow running to be your only form of exercise: you need to build up strength in the muscles that support your runs, or you’re almost certain to get hurt. To increase your strength, focus on resistance training that targets your core, glutes and calf muscles. Not only will this decrease your injury risk when you run, it will also make you a stronger, faster runner.
3. Skipping Out on Rest
You simply can’t run every single day and expect to avoid injury. Even the easiest jog puts some strain on your body. Take a day or two between running sessions to give your body a chance to heal.
4. Premature Returns from Previous Injuries
Let’s say you’ve already gotten a running injury, or you develop a problem in the next little while. Whether you see me or a different podiatrist, you’re going to be told to stop running for a little while. But, you’re a runner, so this advice will be hard to follow. Which is why so many of you return to training just a little bit before your healthcare provider clears you for physical activity. After all, if you feel fine, why shouldn’t you get back to running?
The answer is this: if your body isn’t fully healed, even if you feel like your old self, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Chances are that, within a matter of weeks, you’ll be back in the doctor’s office with the exact same injury (or, more likely, an even more serious problem,)
When you’re coming back from a running injury, it’s crucial to follow your podiatrist’s exact treatment plan. As a Houston running doc, I do my best to give you options that allow you to stay active while you heal. But I only suggest activities, like swimming, that will keep your fitness levels up without inhibiting the healing process.
In that way, I hope to help you see the long game. My goal with runner’s recovery is to allow you to return to training at the earliest possible date. But I pick that date knowing that a rushed return will only hurt your ability to run for months and years to come.