As the weather warms up, many of you will be hitting the trails and road more frequently. Many of you will also begin your marathon training plans in prep for upcoming fall marathons. Sometimes when the weather's great and we're feeling good, we forget to take care to prevent injuries. Every year between 65 and 80% suffer some type of injury many of which can be prevented. Listed below are 15 tips from the "experts" to help keep running injuries at bay. The list doesn't include every injury-prevention tip or strategy but hopefully it will get you thinking about what you can do to keep yourself healthy this spring, summer, and fall.
1. “Warm up properly and then stretch. Run nice and easy for about 5-10 minutes, then stretch once you are warm and the muscles and joints are more pliable. Never stretch ‘cold.’”—Stew Smith, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, host of Military.com Fitness Center , and author of several fitness and self defense books such as The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, and Maximum Fitness
2. “I do a lot of cross-training with other sports, including mountain biking and windsurfing, to strengthen all my muscle groups.” —Dean Karnazes, endurance runner and author of 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days—and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance
3. “The lower extremities are the ‘working muscles’ for runners. They need to be emphasized, not ignored, and a stronger lower body means greater muscular endurance.” —Ken Leistner, Ph.D., strength coach
4. “The single best thing you can do to make your running easier and more enjoyable is to run regularly with a friend.” —Bill Rodgers, a four-time winner of the Boston and New York City marathons, former American record holder for the marathon
5. “Avoid running in extreme temperatures… drink lots of fluids and get your shades, hat and sunscreen on.” —Nick Grantham, known fitness presenter and writer with articles published in leading sports publications such as Triathlete's World, Men's Health and Men's Fitness including monthly columns in Sports Injury Bulletin and Maxim magazine.
6. "Many new runners are injured because they don't take the time to put together a safe running program" —Joanie Greggains, fitness expert and author of Fit Happens.
7. “Many running injuries are a result of overtraining: too much intensity, too many miles, too soon. It's important to go easy when adding mileage or intensity to your training. You shouldn't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week.” —Christine Luff, fitness writer, avid runner, and running coach.
8. “Wearing the wrong type of running shoes for your foot and running style can lead to running injuries.” —Christine Luff, fitness writer, avid runner, and running coach.
9. “Sixty percent of a shoe's shock absorption is lost after 250-500 miles of use, so people who run up to ten miles per week should consider replacing their shoes every nine to 12 months.” —American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
10. “Over-stretching or improper stretching can easily lead to injury…..it's always best to begin your run with 5 minutes of walking at a good steady pace. Follow that with 10 minutes of easy running before you begin to pick up the pace a little. By doing this, you will slowly stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons and will be preparing them for the impending run. Using this warm-up technique will greatly diminish the chance of injury.” —Ray Fauteux, fitness writer
11. “An obvious way to prevent injury, but worth stating. Busy roads with little room for pedestrians should be out. After all, how many joggers do you see paying the toll on the interstate? Similarly, extremely rough, trail-free terrain should also be avoided as it presents unsure and unsafe footing. Your best bet is a quiet road with steady gravel/dirt on its side—grass, in a best case scenario—or on sidewalks with good “give” for your feet. Avoid running for extended periods of time on hard cement or concrete, as this can lead to stress fractures and shin splints.” —Jon Rineman, fitness writer for Life123.com
12. “During hot weather, running should be scheduled in the early morning or evening hours, to avoid heat exhaustion. Do not run when pollution levels are high. Be sure to have adequate rest between training sessions.” —American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
13. “Hard workouts include long runs, races, speedwork, hill repeats, and/or any other stressful workout. Do not run two hard workouts back to back. For example, if you complete a long run on Sunday, do not plan to go to the track to do a speedwork session on Monday. Similarly, if you run a 10K road-race on Saturday, avoid doing a long run on Sunday.” — Art Liberman, author/coach, creator of marathontraining.com
14. “With road races, people need to remember that they are running on concrete, a hard surface that requires the body to take a lot of pounding. It's more important than ever to wear a good shoe and sock combination to provide necessary cushioning.” — Joanie Greggains, fitness expert and author of Fit Happens.
15. “Perhaps the most important tip in preventing injuries is to do something if you feel things going wrong. Often runners ‘run through’ pain and this leads them to a point that a fairly minor injury ends up being a very serious one. If you are having pain, get in checked out by your doctor or a sports medicine doctor before it becomes a serious problem.” —Joe English, professional running and triathlon coach and a journalist
So, in a nutshell:
1) Wear the correct shoes and change them frequently
2) Increase mileage slowly
3) Warm-up and cool-down before and after running
4) Vary your running surfaces
5) Avoid hard workouts on consecutive days and add cross-training to your plan
A great resource for all runners' libraries is Joe Ellis' book Running Injury-Free . Also, check out the video clip below from eHow.com for a few running injury-prevention tips.
How to Prevent Running Injuries -- powered by eHow.com