Hello, fellow runners, and all who enjoy the thrill of the sprint or the solitude of a long-distance run. I’m a physical therapist who’s had the privilege of working with many avid runners over the years. Today, I want to delve into why runners often experience running injuries and how to recover and get back on the track effectively.
Why Do Runners Get Injured?
Running may seem simple and natural, but the repetitive impact can put considerable stress on the body. This stress is normal. We are meant to run. However, it’s more about how PREPARED we are to run. This makes runners susceptible to a variety of injuries. Here are the most common causes:
- Overuse: This is arguably the most common reason. The constant pounding and repetitive motion can wear down the body’s structures faster than they can recover, leading to conditions such as runner’s knee, shin splints, and stress fractures.
- Improper Form: Running involves a specific biomechanics. Any deviations—like overstriding, landing improperly, or uneven arm swing—can lead to injuries.
- Inadequate Footwear: Wearing the wrong type of running shoes, or old shoes lacking adequate support, can lead to a range of problems, from blisters to more serious injuries like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Comfortable running shoes are the most important factor here.
- Skipping Strength Training: Many runners focus solely on their mileage and neglect other crucial aspects of fitness, like strength and mobility. Weak muscles and tight or mainly underused tendons can impair your running form and cause injuries over time.
How to Overcome Running Injuries
Overcoming running injuries requires patience, the right approach, and often professional guidance. Here are some general strategies:
- Rest: Once injured, the first step is often to rest. Depending on the severity of your injury, you might need a few days to several weeks off. Use this time to reflect on what may have caused your injury. Rest however should only be BRIEF and should reflect more like an active recovery process. Not just, “rest and do nothing”.
- Physical Therapy: As a physical therapist, I’ve helped many runners rehabilitate their injuries. A good PT program includes manual therapy to alleviate pain and swelling, exercises to restore strength and flexibility, and gait training to correct any biomechanical issues. Most importatly PT can you provide guidance and a logical/SMART progression back to tolerating the kinds of forces required for running.
- Gradual Return: When returning to running after an injury, start slow and gradually increase your mileage. You may need to reduce your speed, frequency, and duration at first.
- Strength and Flexibility Training: Incorporate strength training exercises targeting your core, glutes, quads, and calves. Flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga can improve your muscle elasticity and joint mobility, reducing your risk of future injuries. One of the best part about Myomuv is we are performance focused and so we incorporate many aspects of rehab combined with strength training. It’s nearly inseparable in our minds.
- Proper Footwear: Ensure you’re wearing the right type of running shoes for your foot type and running style. Here’s the thing with shoes… research shows the monst important factor for this is comfort. You don’t need to get a running analysis and be sold on expensive running shoes. Find ones that don’t slip, that don’t put weird pressure points in different spots of your foot and just feel GOOD.
Injuries can be frustrating detours on the road of your running journey, but they don’t have to end it. As with running itself, recovery is a process requiring patience, dedication, and resilience. And remember, even the world’s greatest runners have faced and overcome injuries. So, take it in your stride, learn from it, and come back stronger.
Run smart, run strong, and let the spirit of the run carry you forward. Until next time, happy running!
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