A blog by runners. For runners.

Top 10 ways to avoid injury

As a physical therapist, I have seen my share of injuries. I am also the person at a dinner party that gets introduced and shortly after I hear, “oh, I have so and so pain.” It is hard to example that injuries are caused by errors in training that can easily be fixed. Because of this, I have devised a list of my top 10 ways to stay out of my office and out on the road:

  1. Run easy. Sounds easy, right? Umm, then why do we refuse to do it! Easy paced runs are the best way to build milage but reduce risk of injury.
  2. Set appropriate goals. If you haven’t run a 10k at the pace you plan to run your next 1/2 marathon, chances are your goal is a bit too high. Set goals that are reachable and reasonable. By using a running calculator, you can find appropriate pace ranges for each of your runs.
  3. Listen to your body. When you are tired, rest. When you are hungry, eat. When you are feeling burnt out, stop running. Your body demands respect, and too often we do not listen to it.
  4. Take your time. There is no pressure to meet a goal. Rushing into a training program or pushing yourself beyond your ability will cause injury. Think long term success not short term glory.
  5. Eat well. Eating well does not mean eating perfectly. It means doing your best to ensure that 90 percent of what you are putting into your mouth is rewarding for your body.
  6. Drink water. Throw out all other drinks and juices. Water is the purest way to stay healthy and happy on your running journey.
  7. Self  massage. Whether you buy a foam roller, or use your own hands, make sure to massage tight muscles after a tough workout. This can save you hours of time battling a muscle strain or pull.
  8. Practice relaxation. Anxiety and stress builds cortisol in the body. This can be toxic and cause your body to break down leading to injury. Find ways to embrace meditation, deep breathing, or prayer to encourage healthy living.
  9. Run long, but not too long. If you mostly run 3 to 5 miles per session during the week, be careful not too add too many runs greater than 16 miles to your program. Make sure there is a balance between your weekly runs and your long runs. This helps to minimize injuries caused by bulking all your milage on one day.
  10. Enjoy running. Run for the joy, the peace, the encouragement it brings. Try not to get wrapped up in succeeding for success sake. Enjoy the process of reaching new goals and new distances. Run with a happy heart.
Physical therapy can be as much as 2 to 3 sessions per week for 6 to 12 weeks. If you are not digging that, follow the above steps to stay out of the clinic. If you are suffering from an injury caused by running, use this time to take a look at your training plans. What went wrong? Be realistic with where you have been and where you want to be. Chances are you will be back running again soon with a firmer grip on how to ensure success without injury.
Written by Danielle Bressoud.