I’m new to training. I’ve used running (specifically sprint intervals) over the years to maintain or lose weight, but I’ve never considered myself a runner. For the first time, I’m training for a race and I’ve been frustrated on all of the small injuries I’ve experienced already, only a couple months into training. As a new ‘runner’ I decided to do a little bit of research to figure out how to prevent running injuries as a new runner. Here are the top four ways to prevent running injuries.
Buy the Right Shoes
When I first started running, I quickly realized I was wearing the wrong shoes. How did I know? All of a sudden I had major aches in my calves, an area that has never bothered me, ever. I switched shoes, and bam, the pain was gone.
Finding the right pair of running shoes is the first thing you should do before starting or ramping up a running routine. You should go to a specialty running store where you will find qualified professionals who can watch you run to ensure you find the right shoes. They will make sure the shoe complements your foot shape and pronation (not too much or too little movement).
If you’re looking for running shoes, this shoe finder survey is a neat way to get started.
Assess and Work On Your Form
Form is a major cause of injuries and there is a lot to consider. First, how is your posture? Are you standing up straight? If you’re arching your back, that can add stress to your knees and lead to overstriding. Also check your arms. Are they swinging back and forth or across the body? They should be close to your body and bent at 90 degrees. Also, ensure your hands are loose to help your upper body relax. When it comes to landing, make sure you’re not landing too hard. Landing more softly lessens the impact on your joints. Also, make sure you are leading with your hips so you’re posture remains upright.
If you’re having issues with your form, this website has a lot more information on what to look for.
Improve Your Flexibility and Stretch More
You need to be flexible and nimble to help avoid injury. You should especially pay attention to your hip flexors, calves, and feet. You can do a kneeling hip flexor stretch to help rid your hips of tightness. It is important your hips are flexible because otherwise it can lead to a limited back swing and overstriding (which can affect your knees and leg joints). Make sure to massage the bottom of your foot, your plantar fascia. If this gets too tight and not flexible enough, it can lead to problems from your feet up to your hips. You can use your thumbs to gently massage the arch of your foot. As for your calves, use a foam roller to get any knots out of your calves. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can also use your fingers to massage it.
Add Strength Training
Proper form requires a strong core and leg muscles. If your muscles are not strong or if you have imbalances, you will get injured. It is important to add strength training at least a couple times a week to ensure you are strong and to avoid injury. There are a plethora of exercises to improve core and leg strength. This website has a lot of suggestions. Here is another article with 10 essential strength exercises for runners.
Did I miss any good tips for how to prevent running injuries?