How to reduce running injuries

The thought of getting hurt or becoming injured  while running is rarely thought of during the early days of childhood. Running as we get older becomes used for different goals, from using running for our cardiovascular training for sports, and as a leisure activity to stay in shape. Although running can be a great form of physical activity there is a risk of getting injured. The lower body receives a force from impacting the ground, putting repetitive pressure on joints and muscles. Any injury can occur for several different reasons, some could happen due to a freak accident. Running injuries tend to occur due to a lack of flexibility, overuse of the muscles, and a lack of strength. The most common injuries among runners are:


  • Shin Splints 
  • Plantar fasciitis 
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Ankle sprains
  • Patellofemoral knee pain


To reduce the possibility of a running injury you need an understanding of a few key items related to running health. The first is how to perform an effective warm-up and cool-down period.  In a  dynamic warm-up, you will be increasing your heart rate on top of getting the muscles primed to perform movements while running. Dynamic stretching performs an active movement to stretch the muscles to their end range of motion. Here are some dynamic stretches and videos of the stretches to add to your warm-up. 


Also before you run, ensure you have good footwear that match your foot type, and they are in good repair.   Shoes do wear out over time, depending on the mileage you are doing.   If you have questions, consult a sports physiotherapist/chiropractor to get a foot and shoe assessment. 


The cool-down portion helps the body start the recovery process. The cool-down will consist of longer held stretches in a static position; hold for 10-30 seconds. When you are holding each stationary position the goal is to feel a slight pull in the targeted muscular area. Keep in mind their shouldn’t be pain involved with holding each position,  here are four examples to add to your cool down routine:

 If you are interested in learning more about the warm-up and cool-down phases here are 2 links. 


 Stretching is not the only form of post activity recovery, there is an additional form that has similar benefits. Foam rolling  is a form of self-massage in which the targeted musculature is rolled and compressed. Common devices used are foam rollers and various types of roller massage bars/sticks, which come in several sizes and foam densities. As a runner you want to really focus on the lower extremities of the body like your quadriceps, hamstrings, ITB (Iliotibial Band), and calves. Foam rolling enhances the muscular system’s  ability to recover from delayed onset muscle soreness, which can cause altered muscle function and joint mechanics.

If you need a visual aid in understanding how to use a foam roller check out this link

If you want to learn more about foam rolling and the benefits involved here is the link to an article: .


If you plan to use regular running as part of your training program , you need to understand how to progress yourself in intensity and mileage to manage the training load. To achieve this you need to progress your running slowly  over time. If you are just starting, try two times a week for either 10-15 mins or 2km. This may have to start with a run /walk process at first depending on your fitness level.  As your fitness improves  you will want to slowly increase the days of running  and the distance or time sustained while running.  It is important to ensure a gradual increase in the frequency and duration of running to build up your endurance without creating an overuse injury. Remember as well to have at least one day off a week, and also give yourself a recovery day after a long run.

For more information about progressing training follow this link Running is a very effective way to train for sport, as well as maintain fitness and a healthy lifestyle.  With these few simple steps you can train effectively without injury.