June 18, 2024

Top 3 Tips for Injury-Free Running Written by Julie Mulcahy

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Top 3 Tips for Injury-Free Running Written by Julie Mulcahy

Have you been running for a while now, and recently experienced some aches and pains? Nothing is more frustrating than getting a great running program started, only to be sidelined with a running injury. There are a few common mistakes people make that can cause running injuries. Here are your three top tips for injury-free running:

Running shoes. It is very important to have appropriate running shoes. The shoes your running partner wears may not be the best for your foot type. Shoes fall into a few categories including motion control, neutral, cushioning and minimalist. Reputable running shops have staff educated to help you select the right shoe and determine the right fit based on your foot type.  Some running shops utilize a force plate to the help determine foot type. As you stand on the force plate it measures how your foot bears your body weight. Good quality running shoes can range in price from $80-130. This may seem like quite an investment, but time and frustration of an injury can be much more costly. A good trick is to ask about older models of shoes. Shoe stores often have sales on older versions of a shoe because the color pattern has been discontinued.

Distance. Ramping up distance too quickly is a very common reason runners become injured. Increase up your distance slowly. Your muscles, ligaments and bones need time to adjust to the impact of running. If you are just beginning a running program, start with a gentle walk-run combination. Try to maintain a comfortable pace where you can carry on a conversation while running. As you ramp up your miles, add about 10% per week as a reasonable goal. If you are experiencing unusual fatigue, take a week to drop back your mileage. You may even notice feeling stronger and faster coming back from a drop-back week. 

Terrain. Keep in mind that most roads are sloped, changing the direction about every other run, allows both legs to experience the changes in the terrain. Also, different surfaces can utilize different muscles in the body. Trail running requires significant ankle strength to adjust to the constantly changing terrain while road running can place more impact on the body. Suddenly changing the terrain your body is used to can potentially cause an injury. Make changes gradually so your body can get accustomed to the new demands. If you are adding hills to your route, add them gradually on shorter runs.

Most importantly to remain injury-free, listen to your body! Muscle fatigue is a normal result that can occur with any new exercise. However, if discomfort persists or becomes worse, see your health care professional to assist you in getting back on the road pain-free.
This article is written by Julie Mulcahy, MPT. Julie is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 19 years experience in sports medicine and orthopedics. Julie is also busy mom of 4 children and a marathon runner. She may be reached by email jam82296@hotmail.com or @PTrunningmomof4 on Twitter.


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