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19 expert tips for preventing running injuries

Content by OrthoCarolina

We asked a few OrthoCarolina providers who are also runners themselves for their top tips on how to run while staying strong and injury-free.

Dalissia Burke, PA-C (Physician Assistant), Foot & Ankle:

(1) Change up your activity frequently; cross-train if you are able. Running is great but it can lead to injuries like stress fractures if done daily at long distances.

(2) Get a fitted shoe. Not every shoe is for every person. Make sure you speak with someone that fits shoes on a daily basis and can give you the best one for your type of foot.

(3) Don't forget about your Achilles! A lot of patients take it for granted and forget to stretch the Achilles when stretching hamstrings and quadriceps. Stretching the Achilles can help prevent tendonitis in the future.

George Collins, PA-C (Physician Assistant), Matthews:

(4) Have your running shoes fitted by someone familiar with runners’ unique footwear needs, who can examine your feet and your gait while running to determine the best shoe for your foot.

(5) Stretch regularly. I cannot emphasize this enough. Tight muscle groups cause a variety of orthopedic problems including hip and knee pain. It takes time to stretch, but it’s much better to invest the time now and not develop issues that prevent you from running all together.

Dana Dempsey, PA-C (Physician Assistant), Hand Center & University:

(6) Use a foam roller regularly. Foam rollers help to roll out tightness in the IT bands, quads and calves!

(7) Yoga is a wonderful compliment to running. I can’t live without either of these when it comes to running!

Chris Gabriel, PT,OCS,CSCS, Ballantyne:

(8) Stay strong by maintaining proper strength of your gluteus medius and maximus muscles, which control motion at the hip, knee and ankle and can decrease stress on your joints.

(9) Give yourself a rub down. Incorporate self soft tissue work using a foam roller, tennis ball, or other device with a focus on your quads and iliotibial band.

(10)Change your ‘tires’. Shoes lose their ability to support and cushion over time. Changing shoes out frequently may be just as important as being in the right type of shoe for your foot. Consider doing some balance work in bare feet which can improve the functioning of your natural foot muscles and decrease your reliance on shoes.

Aaron Hewitt, PA-C (Physician Assistant), Sports Medicine:

(11) Don’t run more than 500 miles total in one pair of shoes – replace them (don't go by how the sole looks!).

(12) Minimalist shoes aren't for everyone.

(13) Make sure to incorporate strength training into your exercise program.

Shaun M. Riney, MPT, Monroe:

(14) Make time for a directed flexibility program before AND after running. Correcting inflexibilities in the core and lower extremities can be part of the remedy for faulty biomechanics.

Todd Shropshire, MPT, Physical Therapy Clinic Manger, Ballantyne and Blakeney:

(15) Focus on maintaining strong core and gluteal musculature.

(16) Make sure to be wearing the appropriate running shoe that fits your foot type (pronator, supinator, neutral foot posture).

(17) When experiencing foot or knee pain, consider that the hip and core could be a potential contributing cause of your pain.

Katie White, PT, DPT, OCS,CSCS, OrthoCarolina Eastover Physical Therapy:

(18) Don’t always run on the same “pitch” (side) of the road. It can be uneven and lead to biomechanical problems.

(19) When training don’t increase your running mileage more than 10% from the previous week. For example if your goal is to increase from 20 miles per week to 30 miles per week, you should start the increase to 22 miles, and so on. Within a short four weeks, you can safely increase to 30 miles per week.

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