Prevent Running Injuries By Avoiding Overuse

Running injuries are almost entirely related to overuse in some way. That's good news because some simple steps can help you avoid trips to the doctor's office or operating room. What can you do to keep running without injury?

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Through the stories of a dozen athletes whose injuries and recovery advanced the field (including Joan Benoit, Michael Jordan, Brandi Chastain, and Tommy John), Dr. Geier explains how sports medicine makes sports safer for the pros, amateurs, student-athletes, and weekend warriors alike.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Running Injuries

+How can you increase your mileage safely to train for a race?

-How can you increase your mileage safely to train for a race?

If you haven’t jogged in two years, running a 10-K race six weeks from now might be a bad idea. Likewise, if you run 10 or 15 miles per week, you probably won’t be able to safely increase your training to complete a marathon two months from now. Instead of doing too much too soon, you should increase training in a way that doesn’t overly stress your body’s ability to heal and get stronger. If you run 20 miles per week now and want to increase that amount, aim for 22 miles next week. If you want to run a marathon in 12 months, determine the mileage you need to reach. Then use the 10% rule backwards to figure out when you need to start training.
+How often should you change your running shoes?

-How often should you change your running shoes?

While traumatic injuries are fairly uncommon, overuse injuries to the lower body can develop over time. Your running shoes are your only real equipment protecting you from the impact of your feet pounding the pavement thousands of times each day. Those running shoes will wear out over time. Replace them every six months or after every 500 miles you run. Also inspect them to see if you’re wearing them out in one location faster than others. For example, if you overly supinate, you’ll likely see more wear on the outside of the soles. Noticing the wear patterns can help you select the appropriate types of running shoes for your feet.
+Why is cross training important for runners?

-Why is cross training important for runners?

Runners don’t have to give up training altogether. (But resting every now and then isn’t always bad!) You might consider picking a different exercise to do. Cut back from running six or seven days a week and add in cycling, swimming, weights or yoga for one or two of those days. If you swim regularly, jog or use an elliptical trainer a couple of days a week. Cross training allows you to exercise but avoid an overuse injury. An added benefit could come from your new exercise variety. Changing your training could actually make exercise more fun, increase your motivation and prevent burnout.
+When should a runner consider seeing a doctor?

-When should a runner consider seeing a doctor?

Almost everyone who plays team sports or has worked with a fitness trainer has heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Not all muscle, bone or joint pain is benign, however. Some pain can suggest a real injury. Pushing through that pain could make an injury worse, or at least slow its recovery. If pain or other symptoms are limiting your ability to run as well as you would like, it can be worthwhile to go the doctor to have the injury evaluated.