Running injuries are no fun.
They can plague runners that are beginners just starting out, and they can also affect runners that have been at it for a number of years.
The good news is that it’s possible to do your part to help to avoid some common running injuries!
There are many overarching themes that can help to prevent many common running injuries.
Covered on this page to prevent common running injuries:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendonitis
- Shin splints
- Runner’s knee
- IT band syndrome
- Hamstring strain
- Further tips to stay healthy and injury free
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- How to plan a runner’s diet
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Now here we go with some of the more common running injuries!
Foot pain: How to prevent plantar fasciitis
What may cause you to get plantar fasciitis:
- Inflammation of tendons and ligaments that run from your heels to toes, causing pain along the arch or heel
- Very high or very low arches
- The way your foot lands when you run, too far in or too far out
- Standing for a long time period
- Shoes that are worn out
- Stretch your arches
- Massage your arches. A golf ball works well as a massage ball, and there are also foot rollers that help you massage your arches as well
- Wear running shoes that are specific to your feet type and the way your foot lands when you run
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Ankle pain: How to prevent Achilles tendonitis
What may cause you to get Achilles tendonitis:
- Irritation or tightness in the Achilles tendon that connects your calf and heel
- A sudden increase in hill training or speed work
- Weak calf muscles
- Worn down shoes
- Strengthen your calf muscles
- Stretch your calves gently
- Increase flexibility in your ankle
- Avoid wearing high heels or flat shoes like flip flops for a long time
Shin pain: How to prevent shin splints
What may cause you to get shin splints:
- Inflammation of the muscles and tendons around the front part of the lower leg.
- Running on tired legs so the tendons are forced to take the strain
- Increasing mileage too much too soon
- Running too long or too much on hard surfaces when your body isn’t accustomed to it
- Running in shoes that aren’t fit for your feet or that have been worn out too much
- Gradually increase your mileage
- Wear shoes that are fit for your feet and that aren’t worn out
- Improve the strength of your calves and muscles of your outer hip (hip abductor exercises). Your leg muscles are all connected!
- Stretch the front muscles of your lower leg
Knee pain: How to prevent runner’s knee
What may cause you to get runner’s knee:
- Inflammation and irritation of the cartilage under the kneecap
- Weak quadriceps muscles
- Tight hamstrings
- Running down too many or too long of hills or stairs that you haven’t worked up to
- Long runs that your body isn’t prepared for
- Shoes that are worn out
- Strengthen your leg muscles, in particular with quad strengthening exercises and hip strengthening exercises
- When you’re running, land with your knees slightly bent to take the pressure off of the joints
Hip or knee pain: How to prevent IT band syndrome
What may cause you to get IT band syndrome:
- Irritation and inflammation of the iliotibial band that runs along the outer portion of your upper leg from the hip to the knee. The pain is typically felt on the outside of the knee
- Too much downhill running that your body isn’t prepared for
- Increased mileage too much too soon, in particular a drastic increase in speed work
- Wearing shoes that are worn out
- Stretches that focus on hip flexors and butt muscles
- Rolling on your IT band with a foam roller like one of these
- If you’re including speed work in your training plan, gradually incorporate it in small amounts
- Strengthen outer leg muscles
Leg pain: How to prevent a hamstring strain
What may cause you to get a hamstring strain:
- Weak hamstring muscles
- Your quadricep muscles and hamstring muscles aren’t balanced with each other – quads are significantly and disproportionately stronger than your hamstrings
- Hamstrings that are too tight
- Strengthen your hamstrings
- Improve the flexibility of your hamstrings
Tips to stay healthy and injury-free
Buy running shoes that are specifically designed for running.
Find shoes that are specific to your feet type.
Your local running store is a good place to go for some advice. The good and friendly people there are sure to help you out!
Replace shoes that have been worn down. Here’s a note on how to save money when you replace your running shoes.
Record your progress
Increase your mileage gradually.
Record how many miles you run, as well as intensity.
Try not to increase the mileage and intensity of runs in the same week.
Whether you record the old fashioned way with pencil and paper by way of a standard training journal or log book for runners, or with one of the many fitness or running apps available is up to you.
Just be sure you are monitoring your mileage in one way or another!
You want keep track of your mileage so you can make sure you are increasing your mileage gradually.
This will also help you determine when to replace your running shoes.
Find a training plan
Doing so will increase your chances of not doing too much too soon, as a good training plan will avoid sudden increases in running.
There are plenty of free training plans available online which can work out great.
In addition to using a training plan, reading a book like Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, even if you aren’t training for a marathon, can help you better understand training principles.
Having this better understanding can also help you train wisely and reduce the risk for injury.
Improving the strength of your lower body through strength training will help to minimize any muscle weaknesses or imbalances you have.
Your leg muscles are a kinetic chain – they are all connected so work on muscle weaknesses and imbalances.
Also improving the strength of your upper body and core will help to keep your running form strong when you get tired.
Poor running form can contribute to some common running injuries.
The book called Dr. Jordan Metzel’s Running Strong lays out in detail about how your muscles work together, as well as specific exercises and fitness workouts you can do to strengthen your muscles to become a stronger runner to ultimately help prevent running injuries.
Dr. Metzel is a sports medicine doctor who is also a runner and triathlete, so when he’s explaining to you how things work, it’s also from his own race training experiences, which includes training for marathons and Ironman triathlons.
You will definitely be a more educated runner after reading this book!
For other exercises you can do at home without going to a gym, you can use resistance bands, a stability ball, and a medicine ball as excellent ways to improve your upper body and core strength.
Similar to strength training, increase your flexibility to help to have proper running form.
Different ways of improving your flexibility include stretching, yoga, running drills, and dynamic flexibility exercises.
You don’t need any extra equipment to get started on these, and these are also easy exercises/poses to do when you’re watching TV!
Another way to increase your flexibility is through foam rolling using either a foam roller or a stick and you can get it the massagers as a set to get a few different sizes.
This does require extra equipment, but is also something you can do while you’re watching TV!
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