People run to improve their physical and mental well-being. Yet, you may risk harm if you don’t know how to prevent running injuries. While nothing is guaranteed, these tips and injury prevention exercises can help.
Why do I keep getting injured while running?
Constantly finding yourself injured after your run can be frustrating. There are many factors that can lead to discomfort you may not be aware of. Running with improper form can result in possible injury, among other things.
Common causes of running injuries
An effective pre-run warm-up, adequate rest and recovery, and high-performance running gear are all critical, according to Hana Jafar, an ASICS FrontRunner member and medical doctor.
- Poor running technique. Improper posture and over-striding can stress your feet and joints over time. You may benefit from working with a running coach who can correct your form to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
- Inadequate running gear. Wearing old or inadequate running gear can limit your progression and potentially lead to discomfort. You’ll likely want a solid foundation when running, which starts with your shoes and other equipment.
- Training too hard or too frequently. Enthusiasm and ambition can lead you to over-train. Running too frequently, too long or too quickly could possibly lead to discomfort or injuries over time.
- Improper pre- and post-run habits. It’s important to warm-up before a run and practice cool-down techniques after a run. Putting your body through a strenuous workout without preparation can be risky. Stretching and cooling off promotes proper recovery.
- Lack of strength in key areas. Weak muscles in your feet and legs may have trouble giving your body the support it needs while running.
- Not accounting for body limitations. You may have pronated feet, or one leg might be slightly longer than the other. Knowing your body and accommodating your own conditions can help keep you from getting injured.
10 ways to help prevent running injuries
As with any sport, there are physical risks no matter what you do. However, you may be able to lower these risks with the following tips on how to run without discomfort.
“Train responsibly and listen to your body. Take some [time to rest]. Rest is just as important [as] training and is sometimes [even] more important,” said Sandy Sysmans, an ASICS FrontRunner member and nutrition coach. “Investing in good shoes is so important! Along with good nutrition so you stay in good shape without inflammation.”
1. Don’t run with any pre-existing injuries
Running may irritate existing injuries and make them worse. What starts as a minor issue can become a major injury if you try to run through the pain. Pay attention to what your body is saying and consider a medical evaluation when necessary. You can then adjust your training and equipment to accommodate any ongoing health problems.
2. Select the proper running surface
What’s under your feet matters just as much as what you wear. For many runners, performing on pavement is the norm, but it's hard and unforgiving. Varying where you run may help to reduce some of the strain on your body, as well as break the repetitiveness. Consider these options:
- Unpaved paths in the park or forest trails for a softer running surface.
- Running tracks can also break up your training routine.
- Soft shoulders and grassy areas next to paved walkways and roads are a softer alternative.
- Trail running or mountain running can be a scenic challenge.
3. Wear running shoes that match your running style
Running shoes support your feet and help to cushion surface impact. The right shoes for your body and running style can further minimize risks. Protective features to consider include:
- GEL™ technology in the rearfoot and forefoot helps absorb impact shock with each stride.
- Adaptive Heel technologies create a personalized fit that supports your feet.
- SPACE TRUSSTIC™ technology, along with DYNAMIC DUOMAX™ technology, provides you with support and stability for your gait cycle's midstance.
Select shoes that fit how you run and where you train. Are you interested in long runs? Consider:
Do you prefer running at a faster pace within a shorter distance? Take a look at:
- The DYNAFLYTE™ collection
Enjoy running mountain trails and getting off the beaten track? Consider:
4. Make improvements to your running form
Making even small adjustments to your running form can help improve your performance and reduce the chances of discomfort. You can read about better form and try to fix poor habits, but working with a professional coach is often the most productive option if it’s within your budget.
5. Stretch before and after every run
Runners should always make time to warm-up their muscles before a run and cool them down afterwards. Perhaps the best way to do this is with running stretches. Introducing simple habits can be key to running without injury and improving your overall performance.
6. Work on strengthening your legs and body
Invest time in injury prevention exercises. When your body is strong and healthy, your foot landings are more secure and push-offs more powerful. You will get more out of your run and help reduce the risk of running injuries.
Injury prevention exercises for runners
Strengthening your feet, legs, hips and core will provide you with a solid foundation that can minimize the risk of injury.
- Wall press. Stand about a foot from the wall with your arms straight out about shoulder-width. Step back with one leg far enough that you feel the stretch. Hold it and then switch legs.
- Heel drop. Strengthen your Achilles tendon by standing with your heel off a step. Raise the position to your toes and lower it again.
- Stability ball workouts. For the jackknife, face downward in plank position with your shins on the ball. Roll it toward your hands. For the hamstring curl, lay with your back on the floor. Use your feet to roll the ball toward your butt until your knees are at a nearly 90 degree angle.
- Cross lunges. Cross your front leg in front of the back to strengthen your legs across multiple planes. Do these along with regular lunges.
- Donkey kicks. On your hands and knees, kick your leg straight back behind you. You can also kick it across your other leg.
- Heel and toe walks. Walk forward on your toes about ten steps. Afterwards, walk on your heels back to where you started.
- Wall squats. Stand far enough from the wall that you can bend your knees at a 90 degree angle while keeping your back on the wall. Raise up, keeping your back on the wall. Squat down about 15 times.
7. Add variety to your running sessions
Add variety to your regimen with a training plan that combines long and short runs, interval training and pace running. This can help you progress faster and could also help you limit potential discomfort that may come with repeating the same workouts. The ASICS Runkeeper app makes tracking your progress easy and convenient.
8. Invest in supportive training gear
Compression socks, tights and shorts support your muscles to help reduce load. This can help improve your level of comfort during your workout.
9. Avoid overexerting and overtraining
Don’t let your enthusiasm push you too far. Create a training plan that builds your strength and endurance within reason. When you feel exhausted, your body is telling you to slow down. Injuries may result from exhaustion, so avoid pushing yourself when your energy levels get low.
Can I run every day and not get injured?
Beginners who run every day may be more injury-prone. While you may be eager to adopt a daily routine, it’s better to start modestly. You can run every day, but you’ll want to build up to it first.
10. Be cautious of running in poor weather
It's easy to slip or turn an ankle in the rain and ice. If you regularly run in bad weather, look for shoes with an outsole designed for traction. Alternatively, you could find an indoor track or treadmill.