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5 Common Causes of Running-Related Injuries

pain performance physical therapy running Nov 01, 2021
Running-Related Injuries
Running is a common form of exercise. Despite the low intensity, research supports that upwards of 80% of runners will sustain a running-related injury over the course of a year that will sideline them from consistent training. This number is even worse when looking at marathoners. 90% of marathon runners will sustain an injury while training for a marathon.
 
It may not be possible to prevent all of these injuries, but there are certainly things we can be aware of and address to reduce the risk of running-related injuries.
 
Here are 5 common causes of running-related injuries that you can address to reduce your risk of getting sidelined from running.
 
#1: Programming Errors
 
Running volume refers to your frequency, intensity, mileage, and speed. I have found that many of the runners I treat don't give running volume a lot of thought. You should give thought to session, weekly, and monthly mileage. There should be a solid progression from the start of your training program to race day, with a slight taper at the end. The general rule of thumb is to progress only 5-10% per week. Volume progressions will vary depending on how many races you are competing in, how far you are running, and other related factors. There should be a purpose to each training session that you have programmed, especially if you are training for a race. If you are just running casually, you still want to make sure you’re not running the same distance at the same pace every time. Your training should have some variety.
 
#2: Lifestyle Factors
 
Lifestyle factors play an important role in our preparedness for running as well as our recovery. Some important factors to consider are: sleep, nutrition, stress management, hydration, daily movement, footwear selection, and positional errors. The more dialed-in you are with each of these factors, the more your body will be able to meet the challenges you put it through. We address these factors with all of our clients and try to make adjustments to maintain a healthy balance in life.
 
#3: Movement Dysfunctions
 
Essentially, you need to have enough mobility and coordination to run properly. Since running is predominantly a lower body task, we often look at mobility in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and spine. In addition to mobility, we want to make sure that you have enough single leg balance and control to maintain proper form and posture throughout your training sessions.
 
#4: Lack of Warm-Up and Cool-Down
 
Time is sometimes scarce. We’ve all had those days where we didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted. On a running day, that usually means the warm-up and cool down are non-existent. I have worked with plenty of runners who admit to never warming up. That’s crazy to me! But it is the reality. You should never skip the warm-up. I repeat, you should never skip the warm-up! It prepares you for the task at hand both physically and mentally. It is an important part of injury prevention. On top of that, the cool-down is what starts the recovery process. There should be some form of a cool-down to be performed right after your run. And no, the cool-down should not be sitting down drinking a beer! It should look like your warm-up, but at a lower intensity and with some gentle stretching.
 
#5: Lack of Strength Training
 
Strength training is essential to life. The stronger you are, the harder you are to kill. Running athletes sometimes don’t even think about strength training. Maybe it’s boring to them, or maybe it feels like there’s not enough time. Strength training is a powerful way to prevent injuries. When strength training, you should try to go with low-impact activities since running is high-impact on the joint of the lower body (more like medium-impact but for a long period of time). Get into the gym and do a well-balanced strength program on your non-running days. If you need to strength train on a running day, make sure it is on a lower distance day. If you’re not sure where to begin, give us a call and we’ll get you on an individualized plan for success.
 
We hope this article educated you on running-related injuries and provided guidance on how to best avoid and manage injuries moving forward.
 
If you’re interested in discussing this topic in more detail or if you’re struggling with an injury and seeking support, please feel free to call us at (410) 357-1529 or email me directly at [email protected]
 
Corey Hall, PT, DPT
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