Running is a passion shared by millions, and most of them, including some of the planet’s top athletes, still have trouble preventing pain and injury. Plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, shin splints, and toenails that become ingrown, turn black, or fall off—all these and more seem to “come with the territory” for avid runners.
It doesn’t have to be like this! True, there’s no way to be completely sure you won’t have an accident or have to deal with pain or injury. But being smart about how you run can make a big difference.
- Don’t cheap out on shoes. No, we’re not saying you have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But investing a little more in the right pair of shoes is more than worth the effort. Sturdy, well-made running shoes that fit your feet, pronation style, and gait correctly not only prevent injury, but help you run longer, stronger, and faster, too. A visit to our office or to a specialty running store can help you find the perfect pair.
- Don’t hang on to them too long, either. For avid runners, shoes generally need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. Even if you’ve been keeping them clean and they’re free of external damage, you won’t be getting the support and cushioning you need from your midsoles any more, which slowly compress with use.
- Pace yourself. If you’re a newbie runner just starting up, or an intermediate looking to increase your speed and mileage, that’s great! Just remember to build up to it gradually, or you risk a serious injury. A good rule of thumb is to listen to your body and only increase your mileage by 10% or less each week.
- Warm up and cool down. Walking, light jogging, and stretches help get your heart and breathing ready for vigorous activity, and help you flush toxins out of your muscles after your run is complete.
- Cross-train. If running is your only form of exercise, you’re a lot more likely to develop overuse injuries. Instead of running every single day, give your feet a breather and take a long bike ride or head down to the pool.
- Strength train. Building up muscle strength and range of motion in your feet and around your lower legs and ankles better prepares them for the strain of running and helps you resist pain and injury.