It’s that time of year. It’s warm outside, the sun is shining, and in the middle of these crazy times, being outside can be a welcome respite. One activity we can enjoy outdoors that can also benefit our health is running. Although running provides many health benefits, it is also associated with a high risk of injury. Each year, up to half of runners report an injury, and most of these injuries are considered overuse injuries.
The majority of running injuries occur at the knee, followed by the lower leg, foot, and upper leg. Some risk factors that increase the risk for injury are having a history of a previous injury and running too far. Some studies show that more than 40 miles per week increases the risk for injury, as well as an abrupt change in training volume such as increasing mileage too quickly.
Although often thought to be a risk factor for injury, shoe type doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to specific injuries. Ultimately, the best shoe is one that feels comfortable and fits properly. It’s also important to replace shoes every 400-500 miles to make sure they are not breaking down.
Some basic suggestions to help reduce the risk of injury include:
- If you are just starting, alternate between running and walking for time, slowly increasing the time you are running.
- Start with no more than a 20-30 minute run per day (increasing 5 minutes every 2 weeks)
- Start by running every other day.
- If you’ve been running for a while, limit your total mileage to 40 miles per week.
- Run no more than 4-5 days per week with at least one rest day and 1-2 days of cross training.
If you start to get a nagging pain somewhere, it’s okay (and probably best) to give yourself a break. A lot of runners try to push through the pain, but ultimately, it’s best to let your body heal itself with rest and proper hydration and nutrition. It’s better to take a short break from running rather than having to rest for a long time due to a more severe injury.
However, if you’ve pushed yourself a little too hard, or you have rested but every time you to try to start running again the pain flares up, Hegg Rehabilitation and Wellness offers a running analysis under the guidance of our physical therapists. The process involves analyzing running form from a slow motion video and then making suggestions for ways to change and improve. We can also offer selective strengthening exercises to help improve form as well. Call the Hegg Rehabilitation Department at 712-476-8080 if you would like to schedule an appointment.
Jessica Hansen, PT, DPT