Health Care Lifestyle

A Runner’s Guide to Staying Injury-Free

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Whether you are an avid biker, soccer player or runner, there are safety measures you use so you can enjoy your favorite sport injury-free. Before getting on your bike, you put on your helmet. When you’re gearing up for your next soccer game, you reach for your shin guards. But what about running?

Sore feet and knees are common among runners — as well as some more serious injuries like stress fractures, shin splints and Achilles tendinitis. Here are some tips we’ve gathered to help you stay injury- and pain-free while running, and rules of thumb to follow if you do get injured.

Find Your “Sole” Mate

A solid pair of running shoes will do wonders for your running safety and endurance. Whether you’re shopping online or in person, look for shoes with:

  • A sturdy heel that doesn’t slip when you move
  • Flexibility and traction
  • Good shock absorption
  • Strong support

If possible, get fitted for shoes by an expert at a running store. Talk to them about any common issues you have with your current pair. Remember to keep your shoes in good shape and get a new pair every so often. It’s a good idea to replace your shoes after running 250 to 500 miles. For example, if you average 10 miles a week, set a reminder to go shoe shopping every nine months to a year.

Step by Step

Before you head out the door for your running sessions, think through your route, pacing and distance. Ideally, opt for a soft, flat running surface. A track is a good option if there’s one close by — just be sure to reverse directions halfway through your run.

For beginners, it’s recommended to start with interval training. Don’t attempt a 5K without working up toward it. Alternate between walking and running to slowly build your endurance, speed and distance.

Whatever your experience level, don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. Any adjustments to your speed and distance should be gradual, with a maximum of 45 miles per week to decrease your chances of an injury.

Plan extra time to warm up and cool down every time you run. Don’t forget to stretch when you do so, focusing on your calves, hips and hamstrings.

Pay Attention to Your Technique

Consistently using the right technique when you run can help ward off injuries. Practice these tips and pretty soon they’ll become natural:

  • Adjust your foot strike position to find what is most comfortable and doesn’t cause soreness
  • Keep your elbows bent
  • Maintain an upright posture
  • Relax your shoulders and arms

Safety First

Even using safety measures and the right technique, injuries still happen from time to time. Up to 70% of runners get hurt every year, and while we don’t want you to be one of them, if you do get injured make sure you:

  • Don’t run through the pain
  • Don’t use heat following an injury
  • Ice the injury as needed 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times per day
  • Take two to three days to rest

Talk with your health care provider if your discomfort lasts for a week or you’re having frequent pain in your feet, knees or legs. They can recommend treatment options, stretches and strengthening exercises to get you back up and running soon.

Solid Support for Runners

Whether you run for fun or are a serious competitor, Track Shack and AdventHealth have teamed up to give Central Florida runners easy access to physical therapists and orthopedic expertise. Click here to learn more about our shared vision of creating a healthier, more active community.

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