While running and jogging can be great to help you stay in tip-top shape, you know that pounding the pavement can take a toll on your body. Not only do running and sports injuries disrupt your training, but these injuries can affect all other areas of your life as well.
Common Sports Injuries in Runners
Most runners experience injuries at some point in their training. An estimated half of all recreational runners get injured. The repetitive nature of the footsteps and muscle movements can cause wear-and-tear, as well as acute injuries.
Runner’s injuries can affect many parts of the body, including:
- Achilles tendon
- Lower leg
For some runners, the injury can be sudden. Other times, aches and pains start to add up over time, resulting in chronic discomfort that is aggravated when you go for a run.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Running Sports Injuries
You’ve spent months training, so don’t let an injury like shin splints or runner’s knee take you out of the competition before a big race. Whether you are a professional runner or trying running for the first time, there are a few things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of getting hurt:
Tip #1: Choose the Right Shoes
Before you step foot on the track or pavement, make sure you have a solid foundation with the right running shoes. A good pair of running shoes is an excellent investment.
Remember, the feet are the foundation for the rest of the body. So when you are taking care of your feet, it reduces the impact on the knees, hips, legs, and more.
You’ll pay a little more for a running shoe vs. a basic sneaker, but it’s worth the investment to reduce the risk of injury. Not only do you need a high-quality shoe, but also make sure that it fits right. The best solution is to get a proper fitting at a specialty store that sells running shoes.
Keep in mind that running shoes should be replaced every 400 – 600 miles. Even if the shoe looks ok, there could be structural issues in the soles that increase the wear and tear on your body.
Tip #2: Cross Train to Improve Flexibility
When your muscles are flexible and loose, it helps to reduce the risk of injury. So, every runner should be proactive about including flexibility exercises in their routine.
Improving range of motion gives you the movement you need while running and jogging. The better your range of motion, the less risk you have for injury.
Always take time to stretch and warm up before a run, and also cool down and stretch again after running. Additionally, yoga can be a great way to improve flexibility and balance, which has a positive impact on your running.
Tip #3: Prioritize Muscle Building
Strength training is another vital form of cross-training that every runner should prioritize. When you are lifting weights and/or including bodyweight exercises in your routine, it helps to improve bone density, endurance, strength, and muscle tone.
When muscles are weak, then there can be variances in the footfalls. For example, there might be changes in the way the hip drops or the knee turns in. Strength and flexibility can improve the likelihood that all movements are the same, which helps to reduce the risk of injury.
Even a few reps with weights at home can have a positive impact on your running routine. It’s essential to keep the muscles strong, so you can avoid injuries. Stronger muscles stabilize the body, which allows you to run with better stability and control.
Tip #4: Be Intuitive with Your Training
Athletes are often encouraged to push through the pain. But the body is sending pain signals for a reason. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, then slow down to listen to your body.
No doctor or trainer knows your body better than you do. So prioritize your intuition to understand the best times to train – and when you need to slow down a little bit.
For example, if you are feeling run down or sluggish, then it might make sense to skip your run that day. Taking a day off is essential to support recovery and help you minimize the risk of sports injuries.
Or, instead of skipping your training session, consider reducing the time and intensity. You might take a few miles off your distance goals for the day or choose to walk instead of run.
Rest is just as critical as your training time. Build rest and recovery in your training schedule to avoid fatigue and injuries. Remember that training when you are overly tired can actually increase the risk of injuries.
Tip #5: Start Out Slow
Understand that there might be a difference between your mental goals and physical capabilities, especially when getting started.
The idea of couch-to-a-5K is motivating, but you need to build endurance and strength gradually when you are just starting out. Going from inactivity to running a 5K overnight will likely result in pain and injury.
The best solution is to start with shorter runs and lower intensity in the beginning. Then, you can slowly increase the speed and distance over time. Also, it’s best to increase either distance or intensity, but not both at the same time.
Taking your time builds the solid physical foundation you need for optimal performance in the future. It’s worth spreading out your training timeline so you can reduce the risk of injury and feel good about your running in the coming weeks and months.
Tip #6: Consult with a Sports Medicine Doctor
Not only do sports medicine doctors help with injuries and treatments, but they can also assist with preventive strategies to minimize the risk of injury. If you are just getting started or ready to ramp up your running schedule, talk to a specialist for personalized tips to prevent sports injuries.
Your doctor can identify potential weak points that could cause problems in the future. Additionally, your sports medicine expert will address potential limitations and provide suggestions for preventing sports injuries.
Each runner is unique, with different medical history and anatomy. So, it’s important to work with a specialist who can identify various issues that could be affecting your performance. Injury prevention can be challenging, but it’s possible with a sports medicine doctor who offers customized treatments.
Schedule a Sports Medicine Consultation
Do you want to improve your running routine while minimizing the risk of injury? Then it’s time to talk to a sports medicine doctor for a consultation. Reach out to us at Orthopedic Associates so you can learn more about our full-service treatments. We can assist with sports injuries, chronic pain, and more. Contact us when you are ready to book an appointment by calling (972) 420-1776.