5 Techniques to Prevent Running Injuries
Here's How We Can Prevent Running Injuries
As an orthopaedic surgeon focusing on foot and ankle injuries, my goal is to do whatever I can to help keep you do the activities you want to do. Without pain.
And when it comes to running, there are some preventative measures we can take to minimize the risk of soreness or major injury to the knees, ankles, and feet. We want to prevent running injuries so we can continue to enjoy the benefits of this fun and easy exercise.
Running is one of the easiest and best exercises to stay healthy and fit. Additionally, it doesn't cost anything to hit the pavement. Lace up your shoes, take a big swig of water, and head on out. For many people, running has been a virtual health lifesaver.
We’ve all known people who were in horrible physical shape, only to take up running and change their lives completely, achieving a healthy lifestyle by running on a consistent basis.
It’s free to do, it’s a good way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and it doesn’t even require any additional piece of skill. Just move your feet, and you’re running! Now let's talk about some things you can do to prevent running injuries.
Strain on the knees, feet, and ankles
It's not secret that running puts a strain on the knees. The only question is how much? We hear a lot of runners complain about the pain that a regular running practice is causing.
And it’s true, running often is going to cause more pain in the long run than just sitting at home watching the Olympics. BUT here’s something that you runners may not be considering. Your technique (or lack thereof), and how it relates to the amount of pain you may be experiencing.
Let's put it this way. Good technique, less Pain. Here are some running hacks to keep your knees healthier:
1. Concentrate on keeping the knees in a low swing.
Think to yourself “keep the knees down and the heels up”, and as you bend the knees. Let your heels come up behind you naturally. Knees down, heels up, knees down, heels up. You’ve got it.
2. Forward Lean from the ankles and impact on the midfoot.
When your foot impacts in front of your body, your knees must to take the brunt of the impact. So try to take the impact on the midfoot.
The best athletes know that technique is key when it comes to running
3. Soft Knees Make it Easy
Keeping soft knees lessens the impact upon the knee and heel. Don’t over-stride and don’t straighten the knee. (This is also a good technique to use for general walking. Keeping soft knees can be beneficial if you are aging and have arthritis of the knee.)
4. Point your feet in a forward direction.
Some people have a tendency to “splay” their feet to the side while running. This becomes a problem if the runner continues for any distance. Why? Because the knee must torque when the foot impacts the ground.
The resulting pain on the inside of the knee occurs with splayed feet as the medial ligaments and tendons become overstretched. This can lead to tendonitis of the medial meniscus. 5. Wear Proper Footwear I harp on this here on the blog. And for good reason. Proper footwear is vital for any serious or even semi-serious runner. And even more vital if you are bit overweight. So if you plan on doing more than a light jog around the block, invest in some good running shoes. Having trouble getting a good fit? You can also consider getting custom orthotics or inserts to add extra support.
Things NOT To Do To When Trying to Prevent Running Injuries
Ok, so we talked a little bit about what to do to avoid knee pain from running. Now, let’s focus on what NOT to do. If you are doing a lot of running and start having pain, make sure that you aren’t doing the following:
Don’t "Heel Strike"
Some people have a tendency to over-stride. This forward reaching with your legs as you reach forward means you have to slow down somehow. Guess where all the shock of hitting the road goes? Your feet, ankles, and knees! Not good. So make an effort to not be a heel-striker.
Don’t Pick Up You Knees
According to some publications I've seen recently, it’s become en vogue for runners to pick up the knees and reach forward for a longer stride. Some of the performance/competitive running publications may push this technique. They mean well-- to help you increase your performance from a competitive standpoint. But we humble docs in the field of Sports Medicine would rather see you keep a low knee and high heels on the swing-back. The truth is, if you are a competitive runner you most likely have good form already. In Conclusion: Stride Mechanics Make a Difference In Preventing Running Injuries
The bottom line: by changing your stride mechanics, you can help your knees, ankles, and feet to avoid becoming “shock-absorbers”. Do this and you can running longer, stronger, and safer. And you can enjoy a lifetime of fun fitness out there on the pavement.