Injury Prevention Tips and Tricks

While running with my bff Meggan the other day we started talking about injuries and about the fact that she has NEVER had one. WHAT? A runner that hasn’t seriously damaged their body because they think that they are invincible and then have to sit and cry into their ice cream container when they can’t run for 3 months? I asked her a trillion questions about her routine, running habits, nutrition, stretching and everything else under the sun related to our beloved sport of running.

It was crazy because a lot of her answers went right along with my running bible, “Running for Women” by Kara Goucher. Main tips straight from Kara, randomness from me:

1. Be careful with your knees! Protect them by getting your quads strong…SQUATS!

2. Stop running for at LEAST two days if you feel persistent pain after running. If you feel pain after a run (deciding whether it is soreness or pain is up to you) then take at least 2 days off and if the pain isn’t gone then take another two days off. Enjoy your time on the couch with some popcorn. Running will always be there for you, come back to it when your body is ready.

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3. Soak in ice-cold water once a week. First, I am so proud of my MIL because she took her first ice bath after a long run last week. Atta Girl. This is an incredible way to help you with soreness and inflammation after a tough run.

4. Run on softer surfaces such as dirt trails rather than asphalt when-ever possible. Grass is the best surface (as long as it is even). Less pounding= less injuries.

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5. Stretch and strength train regularly to keep our body in balance. I don’t know why this is so hard for us ya know? We are fine setting out for a 2 hour run but ask me to take 10 minutes after to stretch and I will roll my eyes. Gotta work on this one.

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6. Take the gradual approach. ‘Make a plan with step-by-step increases from week to week. Every third or fourth week, cut back your mileage to give your body a chance to catch up.”

7. Listen to your body: ‘The most common overuse injuries don’t happen suddenly; they develop slowly over a period of many days or even weeks. Thus you usually have plenty of warning, but you need to heed that warning.”

8. Learn to distinguish garden-variety soreness from the pain that signifies an injury. Sometimes we listen to our bodies a little too much when we are training, a little soreness is good for us.

9. Ask questions and get help. I actually had to beg one of my doctors for another X-ray because I was sure my problem wasn’t a muscle injury and it turned out it was a stress fracture. Be persistent and if you don’t like the treatment/ideas from your doctor, ask more questions or go to a new doctor. Do your research too!

10. Consider dropping down to 3 or 4 days a week of running if you keep getting injured at 5 to 7 days a week. “Make adjustments if something isn’t working, like running every day.”

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Anyone else watching the Tour de France?

What running related injuries have you had and what do you think you could have done to prevent them?

What tip do you need to work on?

How many days a week of running works for you?

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51 comments

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Running 3 days a week works for me, just because I like to mix it up and do other things as well.

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I had a stress fracture in my foot once upon a time. I’m pretty sure it happened during a race but I finished out the season, which did NOT help. I do feet strengthening stuff now, so hopefully that helps.
Then of course other aches and pains… Nothing foam rolling and ice can’t help!

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Thanks for the great tips! Are you using a Muscle Stimulator/TENS unit in your photo? Which one do you use? I have been thinking about getting one.

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Great tips, I need to read Kara’s book. I like Charlie, he seems like a fun dog:)

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Thanks so much for the awesome tips. I think when I started running seriously about a year and a half ago I thought I was invincible and that I wouldn’t get hurt. Man, it sucks being stupid. I developed an IT band issue a month ago on a long run which forced me to walk most of my first half marathon a few weeks after that. It has been killing me to not run but I’ve been doing all my exercises and stretches from my physical therapist and hoping to ease back into running this week. I know Billy has IT band issues. I would love to hear his take on things. Like what stretches/exercises he does, how (or if) it has affected him mentally, stuff like that. Thanks again for all the great tips. I’ll be referring back to this list as I take up running again!

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I just had ankle surgery 9 weeks ago…. I had a torn tendon in my ankle (peroneal) my PT said that it probably could have been avoided had I worked on my core and had stronger glutes and hip muscles. so work on your butt!

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In previous post you wrote about tutorre, don’t see you on a hill during competition of World Cup it’s tutorre for me Wish you to hear only good news about this new pictures, cross my fingers for this

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I started running about 2 years ago and love it so much! It always puts me in such a good mood. I started to do Insanity to cross train to prevent injury and ironically injured myself during Insanity about three weeks ago. Not sure what I did, but I haven’t been able to walk fast let alone exercise. Hoping it gets better soon!

How did you deal with the whole not being able to do anything while injured?

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I’ve managed to remain injury-free thus far (KNOCK ON WOOD!) and I have another tip to add: Treat yourself to a massage when you think you feel pain. A good massage is equivalent to 10 foam roller sessions rolled (!) into one, especially if you’re honest and specific with your masseuse. I am a broke student but I feel completely justified spending this money – if I’m going to subject my body to an intense workout 6 days/week, I need to treat it well and respond when it starts to complain. Oh, and don’t just go to the fanciest spa in town, a lot of times the best masseuses are working out of their own homes or in less fancy offices.

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Thanks for all of these great tips on injury prevention! I know I need to adhere to several of them more often. I am lucky to ony have suffered foot injuries, stress fracture in hgh school and more recently plantar fasciitis. I watched some of the Tour de France yesterday. I have watched it every year for the last 13 years so it would feel weird not to see some of it. Have safe travels back to Utah!

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The very best thing for me is Pilates reformer. Since I’ve started in February, my running has improved immensely and my core is strong. All my knee and hip problems disappeared. I added some strength training for my knees (SQUATS!) I just started to add more yoga for balance and flexibility. I also get regular (every 3 weeks or so) massages and my therapist is awesome. She keeps the ole IT loose and can give me stretching exercises to work on.

I have yet to try the ice bath.

But I do love popcorn!

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These are all great reminders–I definitely need to focus on more strength training. I ran 3-4 days a week while training for my spring half marathon, and that program worked well for me. I’m currently running every day (most days just one mile) as part of the Runner’s World Run Streak, but I’m getting to the point where my body’s starting to tell me I may need to re-consider continuing.

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Great tips, thanks. It has been years since my last injury (ankle), and now it seems my left knee is messed up. My knee started hurting last Monday and today it was getting worse. I had to cut my scheduled 14 mile run down to 10.22 miles. Ugh. I want so bad to finish my run on the treadmill, but I know that will make it worse. The tip I’m going to focus on is stop running for a few days and stretch. I will also make a doctor’s appointment if it continues after a couple of weeks. I have a marathon this fall that I seriously do not want to miss.

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This is such a great post. Really handy tips.

I get shin splints, and after learning not to heel strike, I think I’ve gone too far the other way. What you say is absolutely true, and you really need to be aware of your body, and give it time to heal. I no longer run every day – in between I cross-train.

Love how you can even make injury photos look happy!!!

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This was a good read! I’ve never had a running-related injury but there were times running on the track team in high school when I experienced soreness in my knees a few days after a race. I’m notorious for not stretching AT ALL so that’s something I need to work on. Right now I’m training for a 10K in a couple months and run about 4-5/week, combined with free weights and cross training. Seems to be working pretty well!

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I used to always run 3 days a week. Recently, I’m down to 1 or 2 days … but that’s because I’m not training for any races. I need to sign up for one … they keep me motivated!

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I usually only run 4 or 5 but just started a running streak with a friend so going for everyday. There will be lots of ice and stretching involved with this. And I am in love with my foam roller so we are just gonna have to spend some more time together.

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The most common injury for me are my knees and calves. Since I have changed my shoes and following the FRST program I am running faster and stronger. I only run 3 times a week and it’s been good. I do yoga, foam roll and lots of massages to get me through my running. I just did 18km yesterday and only a little sore but it’s all good!

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Running three times a week (tempo, “however I feel shorter run” and long run) seems to be working for me. Sometimes I throw in another short run if I’m feeling OK.

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I am terrible at stretching after I run. I do a little bit (maybe) and then get bored and stop. Oops.
I’m glad you guys found a place you like in Cali!

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I do not run more than 4 days a week. And if the weekend is an especially long run I only run 3. I am by far a better runner than when I ran 6-7 days a week. Since I love running so much I wanted to do it everyday……….but realized my tired body just started producing junk miles. I felt tired and crabby 100 times more often then I ever do now. And that’s not exaggeration.
I NEED to work on strength and stretching like no other, but I am bored stiff before I even start.

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those are GREAT tips! i am taking notes over here :)

and charlie with his lettuce!! i love it! what a cute pup!

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Great tips!! I have had a few injuries from running and learned from each one! First I got shin splints while training for a half marathon because I was wearing the wrong sneakers, so I learned from that. I also got a stress fracture in my foot from running too much/too often, so now I never run two days back to back. I also dealt with knee pain due to muscle imbalances, so I’ve learned some strengthening exercises. It’s still hard for me to remember to stretch/foam roll, though!

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YES! I’ve been watching the Tour de France. Love it. On top of that, I’m listening to Chrissie Wellington’s new book during my long runs/bike rides. Now I can’t wait for October to stream the Ironman live!

Thanks for the running injury prevention tips. Running injuries leave me crying in my ice cream even if I only have to sit out for a week. UGH!

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I’m jealous of your TENS machine! I was going in for treatments after I hurt my hip and it really helped me BUT since the damage to my hip is permanent/degenerative I wish they’d give me a machine of my own to use whenever the pain is extra bad.

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Love this. Seriously-since I have started heeding warnings of my body, I’m able to do high mileage and stay injury free. Great post! Hope your travel was good!

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I never take breaks right away when something is wrong. Then, my legs get mad at me for that biz. Runners practice a lot of injury denial — at least I do! I’m not watching the Tour, but I recently read Armstrong’s biography. Does that count?!

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Great tips! I had a knee injury when I ran hurdles in high school so I went to PT for awhile. 6 days a week of running works well for me. Charlie is so cute!

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Great tips! #8 is always hard for me. I have a hard time figuring out if something is just annoying and I should push thru or I am about to die and I should stop. So far I haven’t died so it’s all good!

TRAILS ARE THE BEST! My first trail marathon was the hardest thing I have ever done (Catalina). I was not sore at all the next day, even spent the entire night after the race out partying on the island, it was a blast. A road half marathon and I can’t walk the next day.

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Those are some great tips! They all seem like common sense of course but sometimes we need someone else to point them out before we actually listen… :)

I had runner’s knee for a while. PT and electro therapy worked really well and I haven’t had a problem with my knees since! I also had plantar fasciitis but haven’t been noticing it lately – not that I really did anything to get rid of it though, but when it was really bad I would rub ice on my feet and had one of those foot massager things.

I think I need to work on taking the gradual approach, especially the part about taking every 3rd or 4th week as a “down” week.

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I love these tips! But I’m not going to lie, I had to go back and reread them because I was distracted by the spicy nacho popcorn. Why didn’t I know that it existed?! I need to track it down :)

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#2 is good. i torn my meniscus in several places and my doctor said not to do squats, but i have and i think its fine. a big part of preventing injuries is trusting yourself and not necessarily taking everyone, or every professional/doctor’s opinion to heart.

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I never get injured really either! I think it’s because I don’t run on back to back days (I know this works for me), and I strength train a lot. Squats, BABY!!

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That cracks me up about Charlie. LETTUCE? REALLY??? That’s hilarious!

I know for a fact I need to work on my quads more. Especially the medial quads. I know mine are weak, and when you pair that with a tight IT band, it’s the perfect recipe for knee pain.

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Hi Janae!! First, thank you SO MUCH for your email! It made my day/night/week :-)
Second, I find that working out my legs with weights helps tremendously with my knee pain from running! As long as I’m working out my legs, I don’t have pain. But if I slack on the lunges and squats… my knees hurt so quickly!
Have a wonderful night!!

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Man, I had terrible IT band problems that still flare up from time to time. My solution was to run less and cross train more. and stretch and foam roll religiously! by running 3 days a week and strength training 3 days a week, I actually cut an hour off my marathon time – granted my only other marathon was my first marathon where I had NO clue what i was doing. but still! an hour! never would have thought!

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Flying standby= incredible stress. My boyfriend is a pilot and it’s always an adventure waiting to see if we make it on our flight! Definitely worth the money saved though!

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I needed that post today! I’m considering moving my first full marathon date up from December 31 to October 7. Technically I can do it (with my training schedule), but I really need to listen to my body and just remind myself that it is just a race and if I’m not ready for it I shouldn’t do the earlier full marathon. I’m just so excited to do it that I don’t want to wait until December! Better start on those squats….

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I am SO addicted to the Tour de France, have been for years now…and as a Brit it is doubly exciting to have Brad Wiggins in yellow!!! I am so excited about it!!!!

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I feel like a more legit runner after having to take a month off running from injury :)! I’ve been focusing on strength training more and so I’ve cut back my running to 2, max 3, times a week and that seems to be working well as the quality of my runs is almost always on par! I’ve also become a lot better with stretching which I am sure is helping but you’re so right- why do we have so much doing trouble stretching for such a short while after exerting ourselves for so long!

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We ADORE the tour around my house! I’ve watched every stage (and almost every minute) of it. So. Awesome. My husband is a cyclist and we watch most of the bike races year round, (he knows who they all are by sight, it’s weird) but the tour is by far the best.

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I have been good injury – wise so far but switch to a new pair of shoes (which I am blaming mildly) and really feel like I need some time off. I have not ran for just over a week now but so ready again. I would rather run then spend my time slacking off online for hours. so unproductive. But it is my Achilles so hopefully a week or so off will help.

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I am watching the Tour but look at it more as a travel show.
I have had stress fractures (or the beginnings of them) in both legs.
Right now, 4 days a week is it. It is helping with my IT band soreness as well.
I need to work on stretching. I do it at the gym but when I run outside, it gets forgotten.

The Kidless Kronicles

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I am batteling a foot injury right now and after following each of THREE doctors recommendations, the pain comes back each time leading me to a new doctor!
Off to make an appointment with and orthopedic!

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I live and die by ART and Massage. I am an injury magnet :( Tendonitis is a friend of mine that never seems to leave! Also have some sciatica issues too. I am always envious of non-injured runners, but it’s rare. I have been getting better with nutrition (veganism, GF) and better with rest (if multiple runs have gone bad OFF day!) and it seems to help. I also got a coach who gave me a realistic plan and some direction so I have to take days off. Hopefully this gets me to the start line I have 200 bucks of DNS this year!

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Charlie with the lettuce is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. How did your inlaws figure that out?

I haven’t had any major injuries, but I had some ITB issues last year. I ended up going to see the chiropractor a bunch and then stretching more and it helped.

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Watching the Tour de France is one of the highlights of my summer each year. My husband is huge into cycling and a few years ago we went to France and watched the Tour in person (and got to ride some of the same courses the pros do). Peter Sagan is my new favorite rider. I love how he always gives it his all (and has major talent!).

Thanks for the tips on preventing injuries! They are so helpful. I’m training for my first marathon and am coming back from an ankle injury. It’s not 100% yet and after yesterday’s 18 mile run, my ankle hurt so I think I’ll take a few days off and see how it feels on Wednesday.

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I’ve always heard the science is mixed on whether ice baths help, but I do them religiously after any run at 20 miles or longer, and I never know if they help or not, but I keep doing them!

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In high school I had plantar fasciitis and I think it would be from running in the wrong shoes, so that’s another good tip. Get fitted for the right shoes! I haven’t had too many injuries per se but my tendency is to get too wound up with training and then get sick with the flu or a bad cold because I overdid it when I should have rested.

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Strengthening your quads is a pretty negligent suggestion. I had extremely strong quads (from skiing) when I stress-fractured my knee. It’s more about having BALANCED strength. Your butt should really be your focus if there’s just one thing you want to strengthen. Next would be equally strengthening your quads and your hamstrings since they work in tandem. If they’re not equally balanced you are just asking for an injury.

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OMG that is so funny and cute all at the same time that charlie runs around and plays with lettuce!

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