The most common cause of running injuries is overuse. Overuse is described as doing too much, too soon, and too fast. It hits both beginner runners as well as veterans who suddenly increase their training thinking that their experience and smarts will keep them from injury.
Another common training error occurs when you are inconsistent in your workout routine. Inconsistencies occur when you have missed several workouts in a row and then try to add on additional miles in subsequent workouts in order to catch up. Jumping right back into your training program after missing several workouts greatly increases your risk of a running injury.
Building Miles Too Quickly
Stick to the 10-Percent Rule. The 10-Percent Rule states that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week. In addition, you should follow the 10-Percent Rule when building up the length of your long runs as well. Jumping straight from 7 miles to 11 miles is a mistake. Do 8 or 9 miles instead.
Repeating Hard Workouts with No Easy Workouts in Between
Do not run two hard workouts back-to-back. Hard workouts include long runs, hill repeats, races, speed work and/or any other workout that overly stresses your body. Taking a one-day break (day of rest, cross-training) in between hard workouts allows your body to recover and rebuild while limiting your risk of suffering a running injury.
Running on Uneven Surfaces
Many roads have good running surfaces but are often crowned so that water will run off its center. Running on a slanted road will cause one foot to pronate (roll inward) and the other to supinate (roll outward), thereby increasing your chance of suffering one or more running injuries. Look for running routes over the flattest roads available.
Improper Shoe Type and Excess Shoe Mileage
Running in tennis shoes or a shoe type (Motion-Controlled, Stability, Cushioned) that is wrong for your feet will cause running injuries as well as running in shoes that have excess mileage (500 miles or more). Choose the right running shoes and replace them when the mileage reaches approximately 500 miles.
RUNNING INJURIES PREVENTION TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
Run on Softer Surfaces
Running injuries are minimized when you run on soft surfaces, such as packed dirt and grass, whenever possible. Running on packed dirt and/or grass, however, doesn't prepare you for the pounding of city streets that most of your training and races are run on. In that case, avoid concrete (such as sidewalks) and look for asphalt.
Avoid Tight Turns
Tight turns and indoor tracks are a common cause of running injuries. Look for slow curves and straight paths. Shins are especially stressed on indoor tracks due to the combination of a hard surface and tight turns.
Pay Attention to Injury Warning Signs
If you think you might be injured, immediately begin preventative measures in order to keep damage to a minimum and to speed your full recovery. Depending on the type of injury, this could mean using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to enhance recovery, taking anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin, ibuprofen), and taking a day or two off of running to allow the injury to heal. Secondary running injuries often occur by continuing to run through pain, favouring the injured area, and thereby changing your natural running style.
Run in Shoes with Proper Cushioning and are Right for Your Feet
Improper and/or inadequate shoe cushioning will quickly lead to running injuries. It is imperative that you pick the right running shoe that does not have an inordinate amount of wear and tear.
Only Run Miles Needed to Meet Your Goals
Accumulating additional Junk miles is a sure way to cause a body to break down and for running injuries to occur. Run only the miles you need to meet your goals. Following the mantra, more must be better will lead to injury.
To avoid heat injury while running, remember to drink plenty of non-dehydrating fluids such as water, orange juice, or a sports drink. But don't overdo it, either. When running, drink until you hear sloshing in your stomach or feel that your stomach is full. When the sloshing sound goes away, resume drinking.
Use Fresh Shoes
Running on worn out shoes is a prime cause of many running injuries. When the mileage totals from your running shoes reach approximately 500 miles, it's time to purchase a new pair of shoes. High mileage shoes are a quick way to get injured. The shoe breaks down, and in turn, throws off your running stride. One tip to increase the life of your shoes is to purchase and use more than one pair of shoes. Running in different shoes on alternating days more evenly distributes the stress on your feet and legs.
Lack of stretching or improper stretching can lead to running injuries. Stretching is an important complementary aspect of any running program. Running creates stress on certain muscle groups. Soon after you stop running, muscles that have been stressed begin to tighten. The best way to avoid stiffness and eventual soreness from stressed, tightening muscles is to stretch after your run.
Cross-Training is a great way to avoid running injuries. Be sure to include some cross-training/aerobic exercises that supplement your regular running program. Cross training will develop parts of your body that running neglects, fights muscle imbalance injuries, burns additional calories, and increases aerobic capacity. Some examples of cross training include cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, stair machines and hiking.