5 Tips to Decrease your Risk for Injury as a Runner

Runners like to, well, run. It’s all fun and games until you can’t run any more due to injury. Follow these five easy tips to decrease your risk for injury and increase your time out on the road.

Doing a few things other than running will extend the longevity of your running career and keep you out of a cycle of injury or overuse.

1. Replace your running sneakers every 200-500 miles.

This is an easy one to help decrease your risk for injury.

Track your shoe miles!!

Seriously, if you’re already tracking your training, you might as well add this into the numbers! Old fashioned pen and paper work, but there are lots of apps now that have a shoe tracking feature on them.

If you rotate or wear multiple pairs of sneakers (because who can survive with just one pair?), make sure you’re tracking mileage on each pair.

Why does shoe mileage matter?

The midsole cushioning begins to wear out with increased mileage.

A lot of times the upper is still in good condition so runners will put on more miles because the sneaker is still “good.”

It might look good, but it’s no longer functioning as it did when it was new. Take a peek at this graphic:

refererence: Jay Dicharry, MPT, CSCS

2. Gradually increase your mileage.

This is true whether you’re a beginner runner, a seasoned runner, or a runner coming back from an injury or some time off.

The 10% rule is still the main rule of thumb. Increase weekly mileage by no more than 10%, and increase your long run by no more than the same.

It’s also good to have a cutback week every 3-4 weeks so that you’re not just indefinitely increasing your mileage.

A gradual increase is important not just for training your cardiovascular system, but your joints, bones, ligaments, tendons AND muscles all need to make adaptations to be able to withstand increased training mileage.

3. Incorporate some form of stretching to decrease your risk for injury.

This can be in the form of yoga (click here for a yoga sequence for runners), foam rolling, or traditional static stretches for the main muscle groups like quads, hamstrings, calves and ITB.

4. Incorporate some form of strengthening.

You should be doing some form strengthening at a minimum of 2-3x/wk.

It’s important to work the hips, glutes and quads–yes, even though you are working them while running! Take a look here and here for suggestions on strengthening exercises.

It’s also important to work your abdominals and your upper body for better form and overall endurance. Think planks, rows and shoulder extensions/lat pull downs.

5. Lastly, take regular rest days to decrease your risk for injury.

For some runners, this is a HARD one!!

Ideally one total rest day a week is a good idea.

If you just can’t help yourself, take an “active” recovery day with a light walk, an easy hike or some yoga and stretching.

For inspiration, try this yoga sequence for runners, or you can try this neck or back routine to help with overall muscle flexibility and relaxation.

Questions? Comments?

I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to keep ahead of overuse or injury?

Other Articles of Interest:

Cross Train to Become a Better Runner

Runner’s Knee

Achilles Tendonitis

Exercises for Hip Bursitis/ITB Syndrome

Beginner Runner Beware: 6 Mistakes to Avoid

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