How to Run Injury-Free

May 08, 2020

Written by: William Primos, MD

Running is a popular form of exercise. There are over 60 million active runners in the United States. Many more individuals participate in sports that involve running.

Benefits of Running

The popularity of running is due to many factors: 

  • It is convenient and inexpensive, not requiring much equipment other than shoes.
  • It is very effective in developing and maintaining fitness and in preventing obesity. 
  • Running improves cardiovascular health by helping to decrease blood pressure and to lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 
  • Running can also improve the strength of bones and muscles.  These structures become stronger due to their response to the repetitive stress from running. 
  • Regular physical exercise can help improve mood by causing the release of endorphins which cause a sense of euphoria called "runner's high". 
  • Running can be a fun and enjoyable activity alone or in groups.

Running is a repetitive activity. With each foot strike the average runner impacts the ground with about three times their body weight.  This repetitive impact contributes to many overuse running injuries.  Studies in runners estimate that about 50-70% will suffer an injury associated with running during any one year period, and about 75 million see a physician for a running injury each year. 

Factors that cause running injuries

Most running injuries occur because of either intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are within the body. Examples of intrinsic factors that may lead to injuries include unequal leg lengths, muscle weakness, inflexibility, joint instability , "knock knees", and flat feet. Extrinsic factors are outside the body. Examples of extrinsic factors include training errors (too much or too intense running), poor running technique (improper body position, stride length, or cadence), inproper footwear  (old worn out shoes , lack of arch support, wrong size), and uneven running surfaces.

Most running injuries obviously involve the lower extremities, especially the knees, lower legs and feet.  A few of the most common conditions  include patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, medial tibial  stress syndrome (shin splints), and plantar fasciitis. Treatment of most running injuries includes rest from aggravating activities , taking anti-inflammatory medication, and application of ice to the painful area. Sometimes wearing a knee brace or arch supports can help. Physical therapy treatments and rehabilitative exercises are very effective in treating running injuries. As with any medical condition, prevention of running injuries  is very importan . 

Tips for safe running

  1. Improve flexibility by stretching daily and especially after activity.
  2. Improve strength especially in the trunk and hips by performing regular strengthening exercises.
  3. Wear the right shoes. Shoes should be comfortable, well-cushioned, not too worn out , and have adequate arch supports and firm heel counters.
  4. Train properly by warming up prior to running, avoiding increasing running distances too quickly (not more than 10 percent increase per week), taking a few rest days every week to allow recovery, and avoiding running with pain.
  5. 5. Have good running technique with a relaxed upper body, erect posture, proper arm swing with elbows bent 90 degrees, proper stride length with each foot landing slightly under the body, and a  cadence of 170-180 steps per minute. 

By following these recommendations, runners should be able to avoid injuries and enjoy the great sport of running.

Schedule An Appointment

For questions, more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact NGPG Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

About NGPG Sports Medicine

NGPG's Sports Medicine Team consists of board-certified physicians offering more than 20 years of sports medicine experience treating patients of all ages. Specialized in treating sports-related injuries, our team is dedicated to helping athletes return to the big game and the active lifestyle they know and love. 

 


About William Primos, MD

Dr. HuckleDr. William Primos is a board-certified sports medicine provider at Northeast Georgia Physician’s Group. He has more than 20 years of sports medicine experience treating patients of all ages. His area of specialization include:

  • Concussion Management
  • Elbow Injuries
  • Foot & Ankle Injuries
  • Hand & Wrist Injuries
  • Knee Injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Ultrasound Guided Injections

Dr. Primos received his medical degree from University of Mississippi School of Medicine and completed his post graduate training in primary care, sports medicine and adolescent medicine at University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinic. He also completed a pediatric residency at University of Mississippi Medical Center.