Quick Tips to Prevent Common Running Injuries

by Ben Kittredge, M.D.

Quick Tips to Prevent Common Running Injuries

COVID-19 forced the entire world to take a step back and pause. Our day-to-day routines dramatically shifted, and many of us went from exercising daily to counting the number of times we walk from the kitchen to the couch as our workouts.

Virtual races such as 5k's and marathons were common last year, and this year we're seeing a mix of virtual and in-person events. If you're just getting active again, it's important to keep these running tips and precautions in mind to prevent injury.

What are common injuries in novice/recreational runners?

When the exercise spirit hits us, we immediately want to dive right in. For those who are training for a 5k, or perhaps have never been runners before, they forget to pace themselves and start way too quickly. The novice runner will often go from running zero miles per week to running 20+ miles. This rapid increase in mileage results in physicians commonly seeing overuse injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures, which are very preventable.

What are common injuries in experienced runners?

While this may be shocking news to many readers, running does not cause arthritis. That is a common myth. Arthritis in the knees and hips is much more genetically determined. Experienced or established runners, those who run 40+ miles a week, are at a much lower risk for injury compared to the novice runner.

Injury Prevention Tips

Shoes

  • It is essential to make sure you have running shoes that are not worn out.
  • Most running shoes have a 300-mile lifespan or should not be older than 3 months.
  • Write the day you bought shoes on the heel with a sharpie to keep track of your shoes age.

10% Increase Rule

  • When keeping track of how many miles you run, you must also keep track of how many miles you walk and how long you are standing. It all counts. Standing for 30 straight minutes is equivalent to the same amount of stress put on your legs when running 1 mile.
  • For people just starting to run, I suggest running 2 miles twice per week and following the 10% increase rule for the coming weeks.
  • For example:

              Week 1 - run 4 miles

              Week 2 - run 4.5 miles

              Week 3 - run 5 miles