Runners, How to Stay Injury-Free & Prevent Recurrence of Old Injuries
Updated: Aug 13, 2018
In last week’s post, I discussed ways you may be able to stay active during a running injury, as well as how to recover quicker and get back to your pre-injury athletic level. This week, I want to share ways you can help stay injury-free or prevent the recurrence of those same past injuries.
As I mentioned last week, there are several risk factors for developing a running injury, including advanced age, inexperience, overuse, and a history of previous injury (1,2). So, even though some of those factors cannot be controlled, there are still things you can do to minimize the risk of becoming injured. Check out my list below.
It is important to wear good, supportive shoes as much as possible and avoid barefoot walking, flat shoes, and flip-flops. It is also important to change your shoes on a regular basis to avoid injury.
These are not necessary for everyone, but they can have several benefits, as they help cushion, support, and control abnormal motion(s) of your feet. In turn, they can improve performance, prevent injury, and relieve pain, as well as slow down the progression of foot deformities and arthritis. To determine whether you need a custom orthotic or just an over-the-counter one, check out a previous blog by clicking here.
3. CONSIDER CROSS-TRAINING
Cross-training with lower impact activities, such as biking, swimming, or yoga, can give your legs and feet a little rest while still keeping you active. Changing up your exercises will also help work different muscles and may even make you a more well-rounded and stronger athlete.
4. STRETCH DAILY
Stretching is important for maintaining (or regaining) flexibility and length in your body, as well as for preventing injury. As we age, our soft tissue structures (i.e. ligaments, tendons) become less elastic and often tighten, which makes them more susceptible to injury. It is important to stretch after your muscles are warmed up, though, so move around a bit or take a 5-minute walk before stretching and don’t forget to stretch after your workout! Click here for my patient-recommended calf-stretching exercises.
5. BONE DENSITY SCREENING
Stress fractures are often a result of overuse, or repetitive microtrauma, on weakened bone. Therefore, consider having your bone density tested, especially if you have a history of a non-traumatic lower extremity fracture. Your doctor can check your vitamin D level or, in certain circumstances, a bone density scan (aka DEXA scan), can be performed.
6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Often, runners want to push through their pain and injuries. In the end, this may be more detrimental, causing more damaging and potentially lengthening the recovery period. Therefore, listen to your body and cross-train, or take a rest day, when it is necessary, and seek professional medical advice sooner rather than later.
DISCLAIMER: The above information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult the doctor, or your own healthcare professional, should you have questions or concerns related to your health.
1. Taunton, J. E., Ryan, M. B., Clement, D. B., McKenzie, D. C., Lloyd-Smith, D. R., & Zumbo, B. D. (2002). A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. British journal of sports medicine, 36(2), 95-101.
2. van Gent, B. R., Siem, D. D., van Middelkoop, M., van Os, T. A., Bierma-Zeinstra, S. S., & Koes, B. B. (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine.