6 tips to avoid running injuries

Posted on: July 22nd, 2013 by Dr. Ryan C. Enke

(Article via RRStar)

After surviving a long, hard winter and much of a cold, wet spring the warmer weather has arrived! Better weather means more people will be lacing up their running shoes and heading out to the recreation paths.

All runners should take extra precaution this time of year. An increased number of running injuries due to pulled muscles and sprained joints are reported in April, May and June as new and seasoned runners increase their mileage. Doctors and runners alike know the frustration a running injury can cause.

A good physician will not only identify the cause of your pain, but will fully treat, rehabilitate, and prevent the injury from limiting your running in the future. Fortunately we now have the latest technology available to get you back on track quicker than ever before. Advanced diagnostic testing including ultrasound, MRI and utilization of video gait analysis allows us to make improved assessments quicker. We’re using these new tools to both help the injured runner who wants to get back to their running ways and for the healthy runner who wants to focus on injury prevention and performance improvement.

And speaking of injury prevention, there are some smart strategies every runner should consider before starting a running program. By using the tips that follow you could save yourself a running injury and keep yourself on the road, trail or treadmill for a pleasurable running experience!

Listen to your body: Don’t ignore pain. A little soreness is OK. But if you notice consistent pain in a muscle or joint that doesn’t get better with rest contact your doctor. In most cases the problem won’t magically go away on its own. Take appropriate action to help yourself!

Warm-up and stretch: Many running injuries occur as a result of inadequate stretching. Stretch your muscles thoroughly, especially your calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps, before and after you run.
It’s also a great idea to warm up for five minutes by walking before you start stretching. Stretching cold muscles can cause injuries.
Be Realistic In Your Running Goals

If you’re a beginning runner or just coming back from an injury, take it slow and easy. Don’t expect to run a marathon or beat your personal record for a race in the first few months of running. Give your body a chance to adjust to the new challenges its facing and be patient. Pushing yourself too fast will result in an injury.
Cross train: Don’t just run. Mix up your fitness routine with a variety of sporting activities. Try biking, swimming, tennis, or some other activity you enjoy. This helps prevent overuse injuries that sometimes occur when you do the same type of exercise over and over again. Variety will also help you stay fresh mentally when it comes time to run.

Stay hydrated: Drink an extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water on the days you run. If you are running for one hour or more, consume a sports drink to help replenish electrolytes lost in your sweat.

Be shoe smart: Wear proper-fitting shoes with good support. If the soles or tread on your running shoes have worn out , it’s time to get a new pair because running in worn-out shoes increases the stress and impact on your legs and joints. A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles. If you have foot problems, such as flat feet or high arches, consider using orthotic shoe inserts.

Running like any recreational activity should be fun. If you are in pain don’t try to push through it. If you notice discomfort, take a break from running. If the pain continues, seek help from your doctor. Also consider taking part in a running clinic such as the RunRight clinic at Rockford Orthopedic Associates. It provides services for both running injuries and for the healthy runner who wants to focus on injury prevention and performance improvement. It may be hard to do but talking your concerns over with a competent physician is your best chance of finding solutions to your discomfort and getting back to your next big run.

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