The increased awareness of aerobic exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle has made running more popular than ever. It is an excellent form of exercise, recreation, and also a great community builder for people of all age groups, interests, and activity levels. When done properly, running can improve physical fitness and coordination as well as physical and emotional development. As the number of people engaged in these activities grows, increased incidences of running injuries naturally occur.
Over the next five weeks the Brill Physical Therapy team will provide you with information about the most common running injuries, and how to best avoid them.
Walking vs. running
Running is distinguished from walking by increased velocity, or distance traveled per unit time and the presence of an airborne or float phase. Judges in race walking determine that participants are running illegally if they observe a period of time when both feet are off the ground. During a running gait cycle, there are two periods of float when neither foot is in contact with the ground.
Differences between running and walking
Increased ground reaction forces
No double stance phase
Decreased stance phase and increased swing phase
Overlap of swing phase rather than stance phase
Requires more range of motion of all lower limb joints
Requires greater eccentric muscle contraction
Initial contact varies, depending on speed
Decreased center of gravity with increased speed
Decreased base of support
Pain while running
Soreness and swelling
Pain at rest
How to prevent running injuries?
Flexibility is key – Whether you prefer the good, old fashioned stretching, or you’re more into foam rolling, it should be part of your training/exercise routine. Spend about 20-30 seconds on each muscle group around your hips, and lower leg. Don’t rush, take your time!
Strength training – It’s not just about looking good. Strength training can improve running performance, balance, and so many more! The exercises should incorporate both exercises for your upper extremities, trunk, and lower body. Weight lifting, plyometric and hill running are all effective methods of increasing strength.
Warm up and cool down – Yes, it’s important to start slow, and to take your time in the end. The faster your workout or race, the longer warm up needed. A 10-15 min warm up can help preventing delayed muscle soreness.
Hydration – We all know the feeling of the first warm days, and how good it feels to finally get out of the gym, off the treadmill, straight to the park. And most of us also know that heat exhaustion and dehydration is no joke. Take in 6-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes of exercise.
Take it slow – Gradually increase your mileage. Increases in training volume, duration and intensity should be around increase of 5-10% per week
Cross train and rest – Cross training helps maintaining your aerobic fitness while avoiding excessive impact forces from too much running. Including rest days in your training schedule allows your body to recover and adapt to a running workout.
Proper footwear – Last but not least, we have to highlight the importance of proper footwear. It’s common sense that nobody tries to start training for a marathon in high heels, but there is much more you need to know and consider, before you choose your shoes. The type of shoe you need varies depending upon your foot type and style of running. A store that specializes in athletic footwear can help you figure out what style might be the best for you.
Most common running injuries
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Iliotibial Band Syndrome