How To Avoid Running Injuries
Running is a great way to stay in shape, but it can also be hard on the body, so knowing how to avoid running injuries is imperative for any serious runner. Since running injuries put a lot of stress on the feet and legs, the bulk of injuries take place in the lower body, specifically the knees. Preparation is the best way to avoid running injuries and gear and a proper warm-up are the two best ways to prepare.
- Shoes: Shoes are the runner’s most important piece of equipment, and a good pair of shoes is the best way to avoid running injuries. Buy a shoe designed specifically for running, as this will provide the arch support and impact reduction that runners need to stay healthy. It is also important to replace shoes as often as possible, as old shoes leave runners prone to injury. Competitive runners should replace their shoes every season and recreational runners should try to replace their footwear every 300-400 miles.
- Underwear: Every old high school cross-country or track coach has a horror story about a runner coming around the final turn with blood dripping down his thighs. The culprit is often the horrific sounding testicular strangulation. In short, your boys need support. Old school coaches will live and die by tighty-whities as the only way to prevent these types of running injuries, but a good pair of compression shorts will serve the same function. Boxers are a definite mistake, and while some guys can get away with free-balling it is probably not a good idea to gamble and find out you can’t.
- Injury Gear: If the wear and tear of pounding the pavement is already taking its toll then supplemental injury gear may be helpful. Gel inserts for the sole of your shoe may help lessen the shock and reduce or avoid running injuries in the knees and ankles. Neoprene or velcro braces can also be used for additional knee and ankle support.
- Warm-Up Run: It is important to get the blood flowing before stretching. A warm-up run should be proportional to the distance of the run, but probably should not exceed one mile.
- Stretching: Proper stretching is the number one way to avoid running injuries. Make sure to stretch every muscle group in the legs and back. Hamstring, quads, calves, and groin stretches are the most important, but the other groups should not be ignored. Stretch each muscle group for about 20 seconds. The stretch should last 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool-down run: A good cool-down is equally as important as a warm-up. A cool-down will burn off excess lactic acid, which will reduce sore muscles and help you avoid running injuries. Cool-downs should always be light with minimal strain.
- Post-Run Stretch: The post-run stretch is another great way to burn off lactic acid and avoid running injuries. Some trainers believe that stretching after a workout is more important than stretching before.
- Know Your Body: Knowing when to stop is an important part of avoiding running injuries. While it may be tempting to run through pain, it is important not to exacerbate an injury. There is a difference between hurt and injured. A runner can push through hurt and come out stronger, but never try to run through an injury, as it will only make the problem worse.