How to Decrease the Likelihood of a Running Injury

Most running injuries are caused by overuse, overtraining, wearing the wrong shoes, and overcompensating for a muscle imbalance or biomechanical problem. Here are some ways you can prevent the likelihood of a running injury.

1. Gradually increase your mileage. Increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10% will help prevent injury.
2. Wear supportive shoes that are not worn out. It is suggested you replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles or every 6 months. Also, make sure your shoes address any biomechanical issues you may have with your feet and arches. Most running stores provide an analysis of your feet.
3. The best surfaces to run on that provide the least amount of impact is grass and woodland trails. Avoid running on concrete which is the hardest surface you could run on. Asphalt is a little better than concrete. If you run on grass, look for a flat area of grass. While running on a trail, watch out for slippery, muddy areas.
4. Stretch after you run to prevent your muscles from being too tight.
5. Cross train instead of just running. This way you will be strengthening various muscle groups and one particular muscle group will be less likely to be strained.

If you are unsure how to progress running safely to meet your goals, need help creating a stretching program, and or cross training programming, contact Harbor Physical Therapy for an appointment. We also offering running assessments to uncover your specific running stride and provide you specific tailored exercises to help diminish any muscle imbalances.

Common Running Injuries

1. Shin splints- This can happen from a change of distance/intensity of your run and or lack of foot support. The treatment for shin splints is rest and ice. If it persists, you should see a physical therapist to evaluate your running stride.
2. Knee pain- There are many reasons a runner can develop knee pain. Some reasons include muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and improper shoe wear. The treatment for knee pain is rest and ice. If it persists, you should see a medical professional.
3. Achilles tendonitis- This can occur when you dramatically increase your workout. If you are having pain along the tendon at the back of the ankle, stop running, rest, and apply ice. A tight and or weak calf muscle can both contribute to achilles tendonitis.
4. Hamstring Strain- This can result from the hamstring being weak and shortened. If you experience a hamstring strain, stop running and ice. After a couple days, you can begin to stretch the muscle gently.
5. Plantar fasciitis- An inflammation of the tendon that runs from your heel along the underneath of your foot to your toes. This can result from calf tightness or poor foot support. Use ice on the bottom of your foot to relieve pain.
6. ITB syndrome. Your iliotibial band is a long band that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hip to your knee. With running, this band can cause friction on the thigh bone near your knee. This can cause irritation and pain along the outside of your knee. Treatment includes stretching of the ITB and ice.
7. Stress Fracture- This is caused by cumulative stress on the leg or foot, most commonly in the shin bone, heel or metatarsal bones of the foot. If you are diagnosed with a stress fracture, you will need to take a few months off from running.

Most running injuries are caused by a muscle imbalance. Harbor Physical Therapy provides Running Assessments to determine what you are doing during your running stride to cause and or lead to injury. A running assessment will prevent the likelihood of injury and help a runner to meet their running goals. Please visit Wellness Services at Harbor Physical Therapy for more information.

Treadmill Running vs. Outdoor Running

Treadmill Running:
1. Predictable running surface
2. Treadmill belt assists leg turnover causing faster stride
3. Can adjust the incline
4. Decrease proprioceptive training due to predictable surface
5. Decrease likelihood of injury due to predictable surface

Outdoor Running:
1. Wind resistance- increases your workload from 2%-10%
2. Unpredictable running surfaces- increases chance of injury
3. Different running surfaces offer proprioceptive training to increase ankle stability
4. Changes in running pace/stride due to climate changes

No matter where you decide to walk or run, you will achieve substantial cardiovascular, endurance, strength, and weight loss gains. Harbor Physical Therapy provides running assessment and evaluation to help achieve your exercise goals. Please contact Harbor Physical Therapy for more information.