Getting back to Running
Spring is here! It’s finally time to get back outside and get active. You might think you’re ready to immediately jump back into running, but not yet! If you’ve taken a break from running over the winter, or you’re a first-time runner this spring, there are a few things you should know before hitting the pavement. Runners can experience a variety of injuries in a variety of places, such as your lower back, knees, ankles and feet. Some common and more minor running injuries include shin splints, sprains, and strains; most often a pull in your hamstrings or pain after rolling an ankle. Other more serious injuries include runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, or stress fractures. These injuries are typically caused by overuse, old equipment or poor running technique. These injuries typically manifest themselves as pain and swelling in the affected area.
For those of you who haven’t been running throughout the colder months or have decided to start running for the first time, a key recommendation is getting into running gradually. It’s important to build up your running speed and distance in intervals rather than jumping right into a marathon. One strategy for increasing your training capacity is to use the 10% rule. This rule recommends you increase your running volume, distance, time, or speed by no more than 10% at one time.2 This will prevent you from straining your muscles if they haven’t been in use for a while.
The next step in preventing injury is buying yourself a proper pair of running shoes. It is recommended that running shoes be fitted around the heel and to have wiggle room around the toes.1 A proper pair of running shoes will help support your feet and ankles during the repetitive movements of running. Experts also recommend replacing running shoes every 600-900 kilometers, or every six months if running regularly,2 since frequent running will wear down the soles of your shoes.
All runners should maintain proper running technique. As everybody has unique ways of running, there is no one strategy that is best for everyone. Talk to your physiotherapist or running coach about your running technique and how you can improve.2 It is also recommended to vary where you run by including softer running surfaces. Running on the concrete road or sidewalk is very hard on your legs and feet. Try to find a nearby track or trail so you can alternate the surfaces you run on. Once you’ve found your running route, make sure to alternate which direction you are running in as well. Reversing the route will turn the uphills to downhills, right turns to left turns, and ensure you are training your muscles evenly. Adding other exercises or physical activities into your routine will help prevent injuries as well. It is important to include a quick, dynamic warm up, such as a light jog or other brief cardio.1 Make sure you are strength training your muscles as well. Maintain your hip and gluteal muscle strength to protect the lower legs, knee and ankles. Cross-training is another way to prevent injuries by switching up the kind of exercise you do. Swimming and cycling are two similar aerobic exercises that give you some relief from the impact of running.
One of the most common types of running injuries, believe it or not, is a re-injury.2 It is very important to monitor and treat all injuries, no matter how small they may seem. Runners will often assume the pain they are feeling will sort itself out and continue to run or train on an injury. It is recommended to get an early diagnosis of this injury, give yourself a break from training and prevent further aggravation of the injured area.
Physiotherapists are no stranger to running injuries; as much as we love seeing you in the clinic, we want to help you prevent getting hurt from running. If you have any further questions, or have a nagging running injury, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with us.
- 6 Expert Tips to Prevent Running Injuries, October 2020, Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-running-injuries-6-expert-tips/
- The 8 Most Common Running Injuries, July 2020, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/running-injuries