Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

A recent study out of Australia shows that 70% of runners will encounter an overuse injury over the course of a year. These injuries range from minor sprains to compound fractures mandating surgery. Regardless of the severity of the injury, these injuries require some sort of modification to a runner’s training plan. It’s no secret that runners don’t like taking time off from running or shortening their workouts. But if proper preventative measures are taken, these injuries and therefore training modifications and time off can be avoided altogether. 

Fathom interviewed 21 carefully selected sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, sports scientists, renowned coaches, and professional runners to find the best ways to prevent some of the most common running injuries. These experts’ advice–including stretching, strengthening, proper nutrition, and form adjustments–fill this easy-to-read guide on running safely and effectively preventing injury. 

Please note: Experts’ contributions to this article are meant to help the running community avoid injury and are not intended as an endorsement to Fathom.

Their advice is organized in this guide in three categories:

  1. Adjust Your Workload
  2. Strengthen and Stretch with Strategy
  3. Tune In to Your Body

Adjust Your Workload

When we spoke to our experts about the most common types of injuries and their prevention, workload was a common issue. Each expert highlighted how workload contributed to the injuries they see and how you can manage it in order to avoid them. Simply put, workload is a measure of work done in training. Workload quantifies your workout based on its intensity and volume, whether that’s distance, duration, or another unit of measurement. You can learn how to prevent injury by monitoring your workload here. 

Our first expert, Gary McCoy, points to overuse as the leading cause of running injuries. His second leading cause is surprising though.

Gary McCoy

Sports Performance Scientist

Twitter: @StrengthCoach21

AI has shown us that at the elite level, overuse is a leading cause of injury. Second leading cause? Underuse. That’s right – it’s a pretty narrow pathway to achieve the ultimate in physical adaptation. Listening to your own bodies signals is a good way to get and stay on the path.

It’s a pretty narrow pathway to achieve the ultimate in physical adaptation. - Gary McCoy Click To Tweet

Overuse as a cause of injury appears obvious as too much stress is put on the body. But underuse seems counterintuitive. However, prolonged underuse can lead to injury when you return to your normal level of training. As you increase your training, your body can no longer handle the higher workload it was once accustomed to. 

Dr. Laura Pietrosimone also highlights the effects of overuse. She suggests managing workload along with other key strategies to prevent some of the most common injuries she sees, including patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) and achilles tendinopathy.

Dr. Laura Pietrosimone

DPT, Asst. Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University

Typically, due to large volumes of training and the repetitive nature of the sport, long distance runners tend to incur overuse injuries. Two of the most common overuse injuries we see in this population are patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and Achilles tendinopathy. PFPS typically presents as pain around the kneecap and may be aggravated by running on inclines/declines or uneven surfaces. Achilles tendinopathy typically presents as pain along the back of the calf near the heel, particularly during push-off; it typically feels worse at the start of the run, may “warm-up” as your run progresses, but be quite sore at the conclusion of a run. 

Key recommendations to avoid these common overuse injuries include proper training load management, recovery strategies, and ensuring that you have adequate neuromuscular control throughout the core and lower extremity. Many overuse injuries develop due to mismanagement of training load, such as too much volume, ramping up training too quickly, or improper recovery between training sessions. 

To avoid overuse, incorporate rest into your workout routine. Taking a day or two off each week will help your muscles repair. You will also likely feel less tired and have more energy for your tougher workouts, making them more effective. 

Rochelle Baxter emphasizes including rest as part of your training schedule in order to avoid overuse injuries like stress fractures. 

Rochelle Baxter

Master/Founding Trainer at Aaptiv

Instagram: @rochellefitnessdance

I see a lot of stress fractures in runners feet. This is due to over training!  The way to prevent this is to make sure you have a set training schedule that allows you to have rest days. Those are just as important as the training days. 

Even if you don’t feel tired on the rest days, respect them. Don’t run or do any other form of working out on these days. You might not think you need the rest, but in the long run, you do. 

Beth Risdon also promotes rest, advising runners to take time off as soon as they feel pain to avoid worsening injuries like patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee), IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis. If you don’t, you may end up losing more training time in the long run.

Beth Risdon

Running Thought Leader

Instagram: @shutuprun

I find the most common running injuries to be patellofemoral pain, IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis. These overuse injuries can be short lived if treated immediately with time off, physical therapy and RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). If ignored, they can become more chronic. My best advice (although I’m not a doctor) is once a runner feels any niggle or sign of injury, they immediately stop and take time off until the pain is completely gone. This could be anywhere from two days to two to three weeks depending on the injury. Injuries are made much worse because runners are stubborn and don’t want to rest and lose their fitness. 

Take rest days very seriously – as seriously as you take your training days. It is also helpful to listen to your body – if you are overly tired, not sleeping well and/or your heart rate is elevated, you may be over training. These signs are warning you to back off a bit.

Take rest days very seriously – as seriously as you take your training days. - Beth Risdon Click To Tweet

Fathom CEO, Ivonna Dumanyan can attest to this! While we were interviewing experts, she got a stress fracture testing our algorithm…by accidentally running 70 miles in a week without ramping up! However, she stopped running as soon as she felt the pain and this allowed her fracture to heal quickly. We definitely recommend taking the risk of stress fractures seriously. Make sure you have a good training ramp up schedule in place.

To avoid getting injured like Ivonna when increasing your training, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, Ellie Somers, and Kelly Fillnow all advise you to ramp up your mileage slowly. Not only will this help you to prevent stress fractures, but it will also help you to avoid plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis. 

Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

Professional Runner

Twitter: @Steph_Rothstein, Instagram: @stephrothstein 

I’ve seen many runners suffer from a variety of overuse injuries that can oftentimes stem from increasing training too quickly or from muscular inefficiencies.  Achilles flare ups often occurs when the training load becomes too high in a short period of time. A way to prevent that injury would include taking the time to accommodate a slower build up as well as incorporating eccentric calf exercises into a strength routine.  

Ellie Somers

DPT, Coach at Sisu Seattle PT

Twitter and Instagram: @drelliesomers, owner of @sisu.seattle

www.sisuseattle.com

Often times, knee pain occurs because of sudden changes in training loads, ramping up mileage too quickly, or adding in speed work hastily. Sometimes it simply happens because of what I would consider “ecosystem” issues. That’s anything that has shifted the balance of a runner’s health. It could be a lack of sleep, improper nutrition, or stress. All of this contributes to variables that influence how our bodies feel. As long as the athlete has a good handle on their situation, there are three recommendations I usually make to reduce their risk of knee pain 1) train more consistently and at lower intensities for a period of time 2) work on subtle step rate changes and 3) add in some knee and hip strengthening exercises.

Kelly Fillnow 

Pro Triathlete and Coach at Fillnow Coaching

Twitter and Instagram: @kellyfillnow

Plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis are overuse injuries. In a lot of cases, these injuries are due to extremely tight calf muscles. This can be a result of increasing mileage or speed work too quickly. Runners should not increase their mileage by more than 10% each week. A gradual build enables the body to adapt more effectively to the training load. 

In addition to the 10% rule, you can manage your increase in training by monitoring your acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR).  You can learn more about how to calculate your ACWR and find your optimal ACWR here.

Finding your optimal training volume and patterns is crucial to avoiding injury. It is tempting to overtrain when in pursuit of a running goal, but know that this will inhibit you from reaching these goals. As our experts have noted, overtraining is a very frequent cause of injury. You must find a workload that will allow you to improve your fitness levels AND avoid injury. However, there are other measures you can take in addition to monitoring your workload to ensure you do not suffer from an injury. 

Strengthen and Stretch with Strategy

Our experts also highlighted the importance of strengthening and stretching to avoid injury. They emphasized that the foundation for a strong, mobile body that can support you on your runs starts with stretching and strengthening tailored to your body. You can learn more about the importance of stretching and strengthening here. If you need help creating a routine of stretches and strengthening activities tailored to you and your body’s needs, download the Fathom app today to get started. 

Heidy Arellano says stretching helps to correct musculoskeletal imbalances exacerbated by running. Musculoskeletal imbalances can cause you to compensate for weak muscles, leading to injury. Stretching helps to ensure your muscles can fire properly while running and doing other activities.

Heidy Arellano

Running Coach and Program Director at We Run Happy 

Instagram: @heidyarellano, @werunhappyofficial

Many runners’ injuries are a direct result of some form of musculoskeletal imbalance related to repetitive movement. For example, tight outer quadriceps and weak inner quadriceps create an imbalance in the knee joint, which can manifest as knee pain and lead to runner’s knee.When muscles are contracted repeatedly, their fibers shorten and, over time, remain in the shortened state. This phenomenon is not unique to running; rather, it is simply the way the human body works—use the same muscles repeatedly, and the constant contractions will result in their overall shortening. It is important to understand that running alone cannot be blamed for many runners’ afflictions. Running exacerbates conditions that already exist in the body as a result of other things we do—particularly, sitting for prolonged periods of time. 

Sitting is the number one position in the workplace today, and it is typically done with less than perfect posture. The human spine was not designed to be sat on for the number of hours many of us do, and this is a major cause of lower-back pain and neck and shoulder tension. Whether you have been running for years or planning your very first run, what I tell my runners they should consider integrating yoga to their routine. It is never too late to start a yoga practice, and there is no such thing as being too stiff for yoga. Many runners turn to yoga when they have had an injury and use it as a way to recover. 

Yoga is a perfect complement to running, and integrating a yoga practice into your weekly fitness plan is an excellent way to safeguard against injuries.

As Heidy said, sitting causes some of the musculoskeletal imbalances that running exacerbates. We recommend taking a break from work every hour or so to walk around your office, even if it is just for a minute or two. You can also go on a walk during your lunch break if you do not have the time to take a break every hour. If you have the ability, use a standing desk at work to lessen the damage on your spine. All of these small changes can add up to improvements in your musculoskeletal alignment. 

Stretching can help you prevent injuries overall, but you can also implement a stretching routine to prevent specific injuries in the body. You may do this based on your injury history and predispositions. To avoid plantar fasciitis, Amanda Freeman advises incorporating stretching into your training plan.

Amanda Freeman

Founder and CEO of SLT and Co-Founder and CEO of Stretch*d

Instagram: @sltnyc, @stretchdspace

Due to the impact of running, the incidence of injury is higher than in activities like cycling, yoga, Pilates or rowing. While there is still a lot unknown about the cause of Plantar Fasciitis, it is thought that a combination of moderation of high impact activities like running and dancing and a consistent stretching regimen can help to prevent its onset. 

In addition, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Vanessa of Run It Off say stretching can help you avoid IT Band Injuries. 

Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

Professional Runner

Twitter: @Steph_Rothstein, Instagram: @stephrothstein 

Other injuries, such as IT band tendonitis, may occur when the right muscles aren’t firing and another muscle begins to compensate.  To prevent IT band injuries, incorporate glute exercises into a strength routine to ensure that the glute muscles taking on most of the load and taking the stress off the IT band.

Vanessa of Run It Off

Running Thought Leader

Twitter: @runitofflife, Instagram: @run.it.off

To avoid IT band injuries, you should ice your legs after long runs and stretch. For me, the cross body leg stretch (laying on your back and crossing your leg over towards the opposite side while trying to keep it perpendicular to your other leg) works the best to keep my IT band loose.

Stretching helps to lengthen muscles so they can function properly, but strengthening muscles is necessary so that they can support you on your run. The impact of running can be taxing on your body, so you must have a strong base to be able to handle the workload. Crystal Seaver suggests integrating strength work into your workout routine can prevent most running injuries. 

Crystal Seaver

Certified Personal Trainer

Instagram: @crystalseaver

To become a stronger, more efficient runner and to run injury free, you have to complement the very repetitive and linear motion with strength and movement. Many times that means focusing on posterior chain work, developing a strong core, moving in different directions, countering imbalances with isolated and unilateral exercise, and working on range of motion. This doesn’t need to be complicated, but 30 minutes a couple days a week will make a big difference.

Like stretching, strength work can target certain parts of the body to prevent specific injuries. Strengthening muscles around a particular part of the body that is prone to injury will help to protect it from damage. Dr. Brian Cole, Dr. Sara Brown, and Dr. Laura Pietrosimone suggest integrating strength work into your fitness routine to avoid patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee). 

Dr. Brian Cole

MD, Associate Chairman and Professor, Department of Orthopedics 

Managing Partner, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush

In the case of patellofemoral pain (commonly known as runner’s knee), recognize that it is not dangerous but can be uncomfortable while navigating inclines and declines and sitting with the knee bent for prolonged periods of time. The treatment is typically reassurance and a proper rehabilitation program emphasizing core, glute medius, quadriceps, and hamstring strengthening and flexibility. 

Dr. Sara Brown

D.O., Sports Medicine

www.drsarabrown.com

Patellofemoral pain is caused by weakness and instability in the leg that causes the patella (aka the kneecap) to not track perfectly in it’s groove on the femur (the thigh bone). The treatment and prevention of this injury involves hip strengthening as well as balance/single leg stability work. I oftentimes recommend working with a physical therapist to start with because it is difficult for many people to activate the correct muscles. However, hip abduction strengthening like lateral band walks and balance exercises can be very helpful for treatment and prevention.

Dr. Laura Pietrosimone

DPT, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University

It is critical for long distance runners to ensure that they have adequate strength and muscular endurance, particularly of the lumbopelvic and hip region, to maintain proper lower extremity biomechanics throughout a long run. Taking the time to develop a proper training and recovery plan can help a long distance runner avoid these overuse injuries

Amanda Freeman reiterates the doctors’ advice on adding strength work into your training routine, noting that it can help you to avoid runner’s knee. 

Amanda Freeman 

Founder and CEO at SLT Fitness and Co-Founder and CEO at Stretch*d

Instagram: @sltnyc, @stretchdspace

When it comes to runner’s knee, regular strength training to strengthen the muscles around the knee and a stretch/foam rolling combination to keep the muscles loose from the hips/glutes down, can be impactful in keeping the knee healthy and mobile. 

Vanessa recommends strengthening the muscles around your shin to prevent shin splints.

Vanessa of Run It Off

Running Thought Leader

Twitter: @runitofflife, Instagram: @run.it.off

To avoid shin splints, it is important to ice your legs after a long run (I consider a long run to be anything longer than an hour) and to strengthen your muscles around your shin. I recommend putting your toes under a light piece of furniture and flexing the foot up – this really activates the shin muscles. 

In addition to implementing a strength routine into your training plan, Chloe Maleski says run less to avoid stress fractures and achilles issues. From Chloe’s own personal experience, she says not to worry, you won’t slow down. 

Chloe Maleski

Primal Health Coach

Instagram: @cloboe9

To avoid common injuries such as stress fractures and achilles tendinitis, strength training is the biggest game-changer in preventing injury; it creates power, strength, speed, and sustainability. For runners, it is especially important to focus on movements on one leg (e.g., single-leg deadlifts, split squat lunges, stability on a Bosu ball with weight). Runners are always putting all of their body mass x 5 on one leg as they pound the pavement or trails. Strength training can help runners stay healthy and not get burned out! I only run about 2-3x a week and have been able to keep similar times to when I was running 50 miles a week. 

Strength training is the biggest game-changer in preventing injury; it creates power, strength, speed, and sustainability - Chloe Maleski Click To Tweet

To optimize your injury prevention, you should implement strengthening and stretching into your training. Both can and should complement one another to avoid injury. This means stretching and strengthening areas of your body such as your hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves in addition to other muscle groups. Only stretching or only strengthening is not enough.

Ivonna, Fathom’s CEO, explains the importance of strengthening and stretching: to keep your body balanced so it can handle the mileage. 

Ivonna Dumanyan

Founder and CEO at Fathom AI

Instagram: @fathom_ai

Balanced strength and range of motion is critical for anyone putting high mileage on their bodies (even well-managed mileage). You can use the mental model of a tire. A perfectly balanced and well aligned tire can go for miles without an issue. Howsleever, if you have even a small misalignment (maybe you’ve hit a few bumps and potholes), adding miles wears the tire out unevenly, weakening it, and adding speed just makes the whole car shake! Our bodies experience pretty similar effects. A few imbalances can lead to a few minor injuries which lead to a more major injury and thus beginning a cycle.

Kelly agrees with Ivonna that strengthening and stretching is key to preventing injury. To specifically avoid achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, Kelly advises runners do pre-hab strengthening and stretching to build injury-resistance.

Kelly Fillnow

Pro Triathlete and Coach at Fillnow Coaching

Twitter and Instagram: @kellyfillnow

I recommend that athletes do pre-hab work so they do not have to do rehab! Preventative work like eccentric calf raises. foam rolling the calves, and rolling out feet on a lacrosse ball for a few minutes after each run goes a long way in keeping an athlete healthy and injury free!

I recommend that athletes do pre-hab work so they do not have to do rehab! - Kelly Fillnow Click To Tweet

While most of the strength and stretch work can be done on your own, sometimes it is helpful to see a physical therapist or massage therapist, especially if you feel a nagging ache or pain. These professionals have the knowledge base and the most up to date research to help you recover and prevent injury. You can find a recommendation for a physical therapist or massage therapist from your sports medicine physician, or ask fellow runners whose opinions you trust.  

Sara and Ryan Hall recommend, if you have the ability, to take the time to get a massage to help loosen your muscles and prevent injuries like achilles tendinitis and SI joint inflammation. 

Sara and Ryan Hall

Olympic Runners

Twitter: @SaraHall3 (Sara), @ryanhall3 (Ryan), Instagram: @sarahall3 (Sara), @ryanhall3 (Ryan) 

We recommend routine active release technique (ART) massages. Unlike normal massages, ART massages use the patient’s movement to create tension on the scar tissue. This helps to target specific muscles and problem areas. Get ART massages as much as possible!

ART massages break up scar tissue and promote blood flow to problem areas. This helps to boost recovery and heal injuries. 

Sue Falsone also recommends seeking the attention of a physical therapist or massage therapist. Dry needling can help prevent and mitigate tendinitis or tendinopathies in the lower body/legs. 

Sue Falsone

PT, ATC, Falsone Consulting

Twitter and Instagram: @suefalsone

Dry needling has been shown to help relieve pain and stimulate a healing response in musculoskeletal tissue. A health care practitioner will insert a fine filiform needle (without medication) to create a small lesion in the tissue. This lesion stimulates a healing cascade in the body (not only locally but systemically as well) to help decrease pain, resolve inflammation and promote tissue healing.

Stretching and strengthening will help you to correct musculoskeletal imbalances and weaknesses, and therefore prevent injury. Addressing these issues ensures your muscles fire properly when you run. This way, your body moves both properly and efficiently. Not only will you protect yourself against injury, but you may find your performances improve, too.    

Tune In to Your Body

In the end, all of our experts’ advice to avoid injury came down to knowing your body and how it reacts to training so you can give it what it needs. Each expert provided us with suggestions for a range of variables to consider including your predisposition to injury, form, gear, nutrition, running terrain, and more. Tracking these factors will help you to listen to and take care of your body. 

In general, Gary attributes injuries to runners not listening to their bodies. The good news is you can learn to be in-tune with your body by assessing some different markers he lays out. 

Gary McCoy 

Sports Performance Scientist

Twitter: @StrengthCoach21

Muscle and connective tissue pain, resting heart rate, and even sleep patterns are all signals seeking action on how to optimize individual performance. Yet we listen to these things rarely. Pain may be a sign of muscular tightness – or weakness – that will lead to (a) muscular imbalance and without correction to (b) skeletal asymmetry. It’s the asymmetry that compounds over time, leading to one compensation after another. Next thing you know, it’s a musculoskeletal injury, and maybe a serious one. Resting Heart rate is another – first thing in the AM – it’s a valuable sign to note physiological responses to training. It can indicate overtraining or illness and is right there like a dashboard dial for us to look at everyday. Sleep? It’s the ultimate recovery session. 8-10 hours a day for the serious athlete is critical. It’s negatively affected by travel, blue light brain stimulation, being on your phone and computer at night, and our everyday enemy: psychological stress. 

Sleep? It's the ultimate recovery session. 8-10 hours a day for the serious athlete is critical. - Gary McCoy Click To Tweet

Taking all of these markers into account may seem daunting, but there are a variety of ways to track them. Journaling, taking notes on your phone, using an app like Strava, or creating an excel sheet will help you to begin listening to your body. You can see how these different markers affect your recovery and performance. To learn more about journaling, check out this article. 

Another marker for listening to your body is nutrition. Fueling your body with foods that give it energy is necessary to help it to recover from workouts and perform optimally. All runners know that feeling of having no energy on your run after having not had enough to eat the night before or the opposite, a large, unhealthy meal. It certainly does not feel good, and it is not good for you! Lack of proper nutrition can lead to injury as your body does not receive the nutrients it needs for muscle and bone regeneration.

Deena Kastor ties injuries, especially fractures, to poor nutrition. She suggests a diet including a wide variety of highly nutritional foods.

Deena Kastor

Olympic Runner

Twitter: @deenakastor, Instagram: @Deena8050

It is my own opinion that stress or complete fractures of any bone in our body is not due to overuse because I believe a healthy athlete is able to withstand an extreme workload. In most cases, fractures can be linked to nutritional deficiencies due to diet restrictions or rigid eating plans. No matter the category of athlete you assume yourself to be, eating an abundance of varied, seasonal and high-quality food should be a priority. Ironically, it is also very inexpensive to eat that way.

No matter the category of athlete you assume yourself to be, eating an abundance of varied, seasonal and high-quality food should be a priority. - Deena Kastor Click To Tweet

Ellie echoes Deena’s sentiments on the role of nutrition in preventing fractures.

Ellie Somers

DPT, Coach at Sisu Seattle PT

Twitter and Instagram: @drelliesomers, owner of @sisu.seattle

www.sisuseattle.com

For stress fractures, the best preventative measure for stress fracture is to eat enough for your training loads. Stress fractures happen in energy deficient environments, more commonly known as relative energy deficiency in sport or RED-S. Eating plenty of food that is high in nutritional value is priority number one.

There are so many diets out there that promise you results both in performance and aesthetic. However, these diets fail for many people because everyone has their own nutritional needs. Find foods that give you energy and are fresh. It’s easy to get locked into a routine of the same foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but try to mix it up as much as possible. This will ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients to fuel your body. And if you cannot do this alone, seek out help from a nutritionist. 

Where you run, how you run, and what you wear while running all play a role in injury prevention, too. All of these factors affect your biomechanics. If you do not consider how your body responds to these factors, you are losing out on an opportunity to prevent injury and optimize your training. 

Dr. Cole advises taking into account how other these factors affect your body to help prevent and mitigate IT Band Syndrome. 

Dr. Brian Cole

MD, Associate Chairman and Professor, Department of Orthopedics 

Managing Partner, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush

Improper shoe wear, running on slanted surfaces, and abrupt changes in running routines can lead to lateral sided knee pain in addition to or separate from PF pain. Treatment is similar but emphasizes stretching and perhaps running “to the point of discomfort” but never through it. Therapy can be helpful as can changing shoe wear.

As Dr. Cole implies, shoes are so important to running safely. They help absorb the force placed on your body from running. Take the time to go to a specialty shoe store to get fitted the next time you are looking to buy a pair of shoes. They will help you to find a pair that are suitable for your training plan and body. 

Rochelle agrees with Dr. Cole that these training factors can cause injury, in particular knee injuries. Know how your body reacts to these variables and plan accordingly to prevent injury. 

Rochelle Baxter

Master/Founding Trainer at Aaptiv

Instagram: @rochellefitnessdance

The other most common injury I see are knee injuries. This is usually due to old shoes, improper form, previous injury or again over training. The best way to prevent knee injuries with running are to make sure you’re changing your shoes often enough depending on how miles you’re putting on them. Stretch after running. Do dynamic stretching before and static stretching after a run. Don’t over do it and listen to your body!

Both Dr. Cole and Rochelle mention running form as a factor which can cause injury. You may think how you naturally run is adequate, but often times you need to make adjustments to your form to avoid injury. Your form helps determine how your body absorbs and responds to the force of running. If your form is not helping to distribute this force throughout your body properly, you could end up injured. 

Curtis Beach explains the role your form can play in both causing and preventing shin splints. 

Curtis Beach

Professional Decathlete

Twitter: @curtis_beach Instagram: @curtisbeach

Running and slowing down properly is the most effective way I’ve seen to prevent shin splints from occurring. This means not “stabbing” your foot into the ground with toes first, and instead, rolling smoothly through the ground contact point. It should feel like a smooth pull or a grab at the ground rather than a forceful push into it. When slowing down, do so very gradually, rolling smoothly from heel to toe rather than having an abrupt shuffle. A sign you’re doing this correctly is when there is minimal noise stemming from contact on the ground.  

It can be difficult to assess your own running form. Have a friend take a video of you running so you can see how much your form differs from Curtis’ description and recommendation. Try to make adjustments, and then have your friend take another video in a few weeks to see if you have successfully changed your form. Keep repeating this process until you have improved your form. If you are struggling to change your running form and need a professional’s help, go get a video gait analysis (VGA). Many physical therapists perform VGAs. They will analyze your gait and help you to correct your form with targeted exercises.

Most of the injuries we have covered have been pretty severe. But sometimes chafing and blisters can be just as physically painful, even if they do not last as long. Kyle Kranz suggests learning how your body responds to your gear and making adjustments accordingly can prevent chafing and blisters. 

Kyle Kranz 

Running Coach

Twitter and Instagram: @kyle_j_kranz

www.kylekranz.com

Blisters, chafing, and hurt toenails don’t result from poor training choices, but poor gear choices! Selecting shoes based on your foot shape and terrain you run on and wearing material that won’t cause chafing will help prevent these wounds. It simply takes some mindfulness to be aware of why and how the chafing and blisters develop. Not forgetting to lube with chafing cream, for example, is an incredibly easy way to prevent chafing between your legs or on your waist. Wearing Injinji toe socks can help prevent blisters between your toes. Trimming your toenails can help prevent them from becoming damaged and turning black and falling off! These strategies are simple and easy to implement, but also easy to forget.

Once you are able to listen to your body, you will know which methods of training make you feel your best. You may find this involves more cross-training or strength work. Or, you might discover you need to alter your weekly mileage. Making these adjustments will help you to avoid injury by providing your body with training that suits its needs. 

Chloe has learned how to listen to her body and has made these changes herself. Based on her own experience, she now advises runners to train in a way that makes them feel good to avoid injury. 

Chloe Maleski

Primal Health Coach

Instagram: @cloboe9

Instead of working out hard (running workouts) for an hour or two a day and then sitting all day at a desk or in a classroom, I do shorter intense workouts (switching it up between running, lifting, boxing, basically whatever I FEEL like I want to do), and then stay active throughout the day. Doing stretches on my lunch break, biking to meetings, etc. I have found this so much more sustainable.

Crystal also says knowing how your body reacts to training and making adjustments accordingly will help you to prevent running injuries. It all comes down to how you feel. 

Crystal Seaver

Certified Personal Trainer

Instagram: @crystalseaver

Preventing injury usually comes down to being conscious of how you are feeling. Increase mileage and intensity slowly, know your limits and schedule plenty of rest, keep hard workouts, hard and easy workouts, truly easy, find the shoes that are right for you and replace them regularly, and don’t avoid the little ache or nagging pain – addressing it right away often leads to a happier body. 

Preventing injury usually comes down to being conscious of how you are feeling. - Crystal Seaver Click To Tweet

Tuning in to your body takes a little longer to implement than adjusting your workload or stretching and strengthening because it is not something you can change overnight. It takes time to track and learn what your body needs. However, once you know how your body responds to the various factors laid out, you can make the changes necessary to run injury free. Be patient.

By adjusting your workload, strengthening and stretching with strategy, and tuning in to your body, you can avoid injury and keep running. We challenge you to begin integrating these recommendations into your training plan so you can chase your goals without limits. 

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