A blog by runners. For runners.

Injury-prone? It’s the worst. Here are 5 tips to stay healthy

Injury-prone and no solution in site? Try this. What’s that? You’re following our rules for injury prevention to a T, but you’re still ending up hurt? We’ve been there, too!

If you’re one of the unlucky runners who always seems to get hurt, these tips are for you.

  1. Know your own limits. It’s great your neighbor can run 70-mile weeks and not get hurt. However, your personal injury threshold is likely a weekly mileage much lower than that. Take stock of your past running logs and see if you can spot any patterns. Does your knee start acting up after 30-mile weeks? Or only after you log double digit long runs? Know – and respect – your own limits.
  2. Take time off to really heal. No one wants to back off from at the first sign of injury and everyone wants to get back out there the second they feel better. But if jump back into running before you’re fully healed, you could set you up for another injury. For example, say you sat out for a few weeks with a bum right foot. Your foot feels better and you can run if you tweak your stride a little bit and land harder with your left foot. Running with poor mechanics like these, though, could lead to an iliotibial (IT) band injuryThe bottom line: don’t return to running following an injury until you’re fully (i.e., 110 percent) healed and can run without any pain. When in doubt, sit out for a longer amount of time.
  3. Take baby steps. Once you’re ready to make your comeback, ease into running extremely slowly. Rather than increasing your total mileage by 10 percent each week, only up it by 5 percent. Instead of taking a walk break after every mile, take one after every half of a mile. And don’t even think about racing again. Wait until you’ve been running for a while before you make plans to train.
  4. Have a running coach check out your stride.  Changing up your stride may be your ticket to running injury-free. A 2009 study found runners who shortened their strides by 10 percent cut their risk of tibial stress fractures. Experts also say that over-striding may be linked with hip and knee injuries, and heel-striking (landing with your heal hitting the ground first before any other part of your foot) may overload the knees and cause injuries, tooConsider asking a running coach to watch you run. Then you can work to correct your stride, and hopefully run without injury.
  5. See a doctor. Find a healthcare provider who specializes in sports injuries, such as a sports orthopedist, podiatrist, or chiropractor (bonus points if you can find one who focuses on runners). You could have an underlying medical issue that’s causing you to get hurt frequently. For instance, maybe one of your hips is higher than the other. In these cases, no matter how many injury prevention tips you follow, you won’t get better until you treat the underlying cause of your problem.

Are you a former injury-prone runner? How did you come out the other side? Share your tips with the rest of us!

Written by Jen Matz.