Running is a fruitful form of exercise that brings in a number of benefits and advantages. But as running does not require any prior training or equipment, beginners tend to fall on the wrong side of the track. These mistakes could mount to a severe injury or result in you paying a hefty hospital bill.
If you are a beginner and wish to steer clear of any running injuries, you have stumbled upon the right article. In the following account, you will learn the basic mistakes that every runner makes in his/her beginner stage. This could help them steer clear from sustaining any minor or major injuries.
Ways to Prevent Running Injuries
Running requires constant leg movements. Along with that, your strides, as well as the form, should be perfect. One slight discrepancy and you could find yourself with a leg injury. The following are some of the ways through which you can prevent succumbing to them:
Warm-up and Cool-down
The first mistake that most people make is that they skip a warm-up session before running. People assume that they could just hop on their running shoes right after getting up. But as running requires you to undertake continuous foot movements, it is necessary to stretch out beforehand.
Warming up helps in preventing injuries by enhancing your overall form and performance. It prepares the body for a constant range of motions so that there are no repercussions.
You can try walking, dynamic stretches, lunges, leg swings, squats, skipping, etc. avoid static stretches as it could lead to an injury.
Once you are done with your running session, it is crucial to undertake a cool-down routine. It should be static in nature. This is necessary to stretch the muscles.
You can try hamstring stretch, standing hip flexor stretch, figure four glue stretch, etc.
Choose the Proper Footwear
Do you expect to reap all the benefits from running while wearing your regular dress shoes or crocs? We hope not.
Getting the right kind of footwear is one of the essential steps for every runner, and it is vital to get it right. Not only do you have to ace the fitting, but also the comfort and support provided.
Go for qualitative and branded shoes rather than wasting your dollars on cheap products. The right fit plays a vital role in your running strides. If you wear tight shoes, your leg movements will remain restricted. In case you wear loose ones, they will come off while running.
Aim for getting snug-fit shoes that sit perfectly along the heel area while giving you enough wiggle room in the toe area. Wear socks along with them for comfort and additional support.
Maintenance is the key as you cannot wear the same shoes for years. They, too, have a shelf life, and you must replace your running shoes every six months.
If you notice any wear or tear, especially in the sole or midsole, you must get it repaired or replaced immediately.
Orthotics or special kinds of shoes are recommended for people with flat feet. You can consult your podiatrist for the same.
Build your Strength
If you want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, you cannot just stick to running. You need to explore more options for faster and better results.
Strength training is a must for all runners as it helps in correcting the posture while building muscles and reducing the chances of injuries. As it increases your overall strength, you will also see a significant difference in your running performance.
Along with improving your strength, it also helps in building endurance, bone density, and muscle tone.
You can try single-leg squats, calf raises, hamstring curls, glute activation, etc. You can also work your way into lifting weights for better results. But do not get into it hastily. Workout at your own pace and endurance levels.
Start Slowly and Improve Gradually
As mentioned earlier, you must work at it at your own pace. If you are a beginner and running for the first time, you cannot simply aim to run 5k on the first try. It will seamlessly tire you out while also causing multiple injuries and fatigue.
Start with 1k and work your way to the top. Success does not come overnight, and neither should you expect it to. Be patient and run every day.
Stretching is important for runners as it improves their strides and running performance. You can either opt for yoga or pilates.
Other stretching exercises like the knee hug, child’s pose, standing quad stretch, seated hamstring stretch, toe touch, and wall push, etc., can be highly effective.
Avoid Back-to-back Sessions
A monotonous training routine can also cause injuries. It can fatigue certain muscles and energy systems, leaving you highly prone to several injuries.
Try inculcating different routines while targeting all muscle groups. Go according to your endurance level and target body type. This can also avoid any injuries while running.
You must stay hydrated before, during, and after your running session to avoid injuries. As water regulates the body temperature, energizes our cells, removes waste toxins, and also cushions our joints.
This can reduce your running performance while minimizing injury and leg cramping.
Avoid Hard Surfaces
You need to run on such a ground that could absorb the shock and not let it get to your legs. It is best to avoid running on concrete as it leads to maximum injuries.
Grass surfaces or dirt trails are said to be the best surfaces for running. Do not take tight turns to avoid ankle sprain. Look out for straight running paths or something with slow curves.
Once you have found your ideal running ground, do not change it frequently. Stick to it so that you could get accustomed to the texture and turns.
Take a Break
We all deserve a break once in a while. Rather than straining your body while running for miles every day, take a day off once a week. This will allow your muscles to relax and loosen up.
If you have any pre-existing injury, especially on your legs, it is best to wait it out. Do not run till it is healed, or else you might find yourself on the wrong side of the road. Do not exert yourself and give your body some time to heal.
Take Medical Help
If you have any sprain, pain, or any other leg disorder, do not ignore it and let it heal on its own. If the pain is consistent, it is best to seek the help of a professional. They know better than us, and they will guide you in further treatments.
Common Running Injuries
According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the following are the chances of running injuries in various leg parts:
- Foot: Upto 39.3%
- Ankles: Upto 16.6%
- Knees: Upto 50%
- Upper Leg: Upto 38.1%
- Lower Leg: Upto 32.3%
The following are some of the most common running injuries:
Also known as patellofemoral syndrome, a runner’s knee is when you experience pain in the front part of the knee or around the kneecap. This results from excessive running or jumping, hence the name.
The pain could range from mild to very painful. The situation can worsen with excessive exercise, foot movements, running, climbing stairs, jumping, or squatting.
It is advisable to visit the doctor as an X-ray might be required for further treatment.
IT band syndrome
IT band, also known as the iliotibial band, is a connective tissue that ranges from the outer hip to the knee. It helps in stabilizing the knee while walking or running.
This disorder results from the repetitive friction of the IT band while it rubs against the leg bone. It can cause excruciating pain above your knee. The situation can worsen on bending the knee constantly.
Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects the heel to the calf muscle. Usually, this results when the runner increases his/her intensity or mileage of running.
Once the tendon gets torn, it will require surgery.
Additionally, you could experience pain above your heel, swelling, and a limited range of motion.
Plantar fasciitis is the degeneration of the thick layer of tissue found on the bottom part of your foot. As this tissue acts as a spring while running or walking, it can get ruptured, torn, or inflamed.
Moreover, tight muscles or weakness in your calf can also lead to this.
You could experience pain in your heel and midfoot with a burning sensation. There could be more pain after physical activity.
Shin splints occur in the front as well as the inner parts of the lower legs. As evident from the name, it is seen along the shinbone.
It is the result of running too much or running on hard, concrete surfaces.
Most times, it can heal itself with excessive rest. However, you must see a doctor if the pain persists.
Sprains are a common sight with runners, especially beginners. They happen when you land on the foot’s outer part and roll your ankle.
You could experience swelling, bruising, discoloration, pain, and a limited range of motion.
In some cases, you might require physical therapy.
During the swing phase of your running cycle, the hamstrings help in decelerating your lower leg. If they are weak or tired, it could lead to a severe injury.
You can experience pain at the backside of your upper leg along with stiffness in your hamstring.
Repetitive stress can lead to a hairline crack in your bone, known as a stress fracture. It is highly common in runners.
Professional medical help is required to treat this disorder.
You could experience swelling, bruising in the area of the fracture. The pain might be mild in the initial phases but will increase with time.
As specified in the aforementioned article, running injuries are common. But at the same time, with the right care and treatment, you can avoid and treat it respectively. Do not take running lightly as a single wrong stride could lead to a serious injury. Run at your pace and increase as per your progress.
Lastly, if you sustain any injury, call your doctor immediately and get the required medical attention.
I am a registered professional nurse with experience of 10+ years under my belt. I graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since then, I have been beneficial for various rehabilitative and critical medical situations. I work with Feetfitness.com Team with researching foot problems and assists them by providing my expertise in the best footwear for different medical conditions. I am also instrumental to the group by helping in test, compile, and present the best footwear for professionals & everyday uses