The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

5 More Essential Rules to Prevent Running Injuries

Posted by on Monday, February 22nd, 2016

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Nothing is worse for an active runner than to get laid up with an injury! It’s best to just prevent the mandatory time off altogether, right? Our sports medicine doctors have worked with countless New York marathon runners, Road Runners club members, Olympians, running coaches and weekend warriors who have been forced to take the long, hard road to recovery following a foot or ankle injury. Last week, we published five tips to help you prevent this fate last week. From moderation to stretching, here are five more rules to prevent running injuries:

NYC podiatrists give you five tips for preventing running injuries. Image Source: Flickr User terren in virginia
NYC podiatrists give you five tips for preventing running injuries. Image Source: Flickr User terren in virginia

1. Pay attention to your running surfaces.

How level is your normal running surface? Some of us just take the most scenic route without really gauging how level the surface is. Even a minor slope in the road puts you at a leg length discrepancy that can interfere with normal pronation and force you into an unbalanced position. While this isn’t likely to cause harm if you run in this fashion every so often, runners who habitually favor the same sloped routes could run into trouble with foot and ankle injuries, not to mention hip and knee problems. Try to do some training on a bike path, dirt trail, running track, or treadmill to vary up your routine, our NYC podiatrists advise. Treadmills are especially good for beginners or marathon trainers to ramp up their mileage without becoming more susceptible to injury.

2. Don’t try to be the hare.

We all know that speedwork is good for improving our skill sets as runners. However, research shows a very obvious correlation between racing and injuries. Many runners we’ve worked with say they have one or two speedy interval runs during the week and race on the weekends. That’s a lot of pounding of the feet and ankles to sustain without rest. “We often ask people: is it worth improving your speed by five percent to increase your injury risk by 25 percent?” says Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, DPM. A better plan is to take ample recovery time after a race  one day for every mile raced is a good rule of thumb. Take a page from the Olympic gold medalist playbook and do no more than 5-10% of your training at 5K race pace or faster.

3. Find a second love.

The most dedicated runners we know all have a second love, too. It’s like your children — you can love another sport, just in a different way. Aim to do a different activity at least one day a week to work different muscles, joints, and tissue groups. Experts agree that the best cross-training activities include swimming, cycling, rowing, and elliptical training. You may also find an activity like shooting hoops, playing a few rounds of golf, or hitting the tennis ball to be an enjoyable break from running as well.

If you’re recovering from injury, try the following:

  • Swimming for Iliotibial-Band Syndrome
  • Swimming, biking, elliptical, or rowing for Achilles pain
  • Swimming, biking, elliptical, or rowing for plantar fasciitis
  • Swimming for stress fracture

Check out this guide from Runner’s World to prevent injury while cross-training.

4. Ask a podiatrist to check if your shoes fit.

When was the last time you had your feet professionally fitted for shoes? If it’s been a while, your shoe size and ideal type might surprise you. There is no single “best shoe” for everyone. There are many individual factors to consider, which is why it’s good to speak with a doctor — someone who isn’t a shoe store sales associate that can give you an unbiased assessment based on sound science rather than marketing pitches. The right shoes won’t cure all your woes, but they can greatly improve comfort and function. Keep in mind that running shoes should be replaced at least every 300-500 miles, but some shoes wear faster. If you have any questions about the condition of your shoes, we’re happy t0 answer them.

5. Increase flexibility in your legs.

Here’s a little-known fact: flexible hamstrings, knees, and hip flexors provide benefits all the way down to your calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia. With that in mind, you strongly recommend adding a warm up and post-run stretching to your runs. We understand there has been disagreement among experts as to the overall validity of stretching. However, we have seen benefits to improving flexibility and using weights for strength-training in these key areas to reduce the load on the feet and ankles. If you live in the New York City metro and you’re not sure how to approach this goal, we’d love to help. Contact us!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.