How to prevent injuries when running

About one in three recreational runners will have a runner-related injury at some point in their lives. Nearly three out of four running-related injuries occur in the lower leg. How to prevent injuries when running?

Familiar places include the knee, ankle, calf, and foot. Runners are also more likely to experience back and groin injuries. Running risks injury, but you can prevent most injuries by following a few simple guidelines, such as warming up and not pushing yourself too hard.

Common injuries when running and jogging

Common injuries include:

  • Blisters – caused by the foot slipping or rubbing inside the shoe
  • Pain and inflammation in the muscles and tendons
  • Soft tissue injuries – such as a pulled muscle or ligament sprain
  • Skin damage – such as sunburn and bruising. Falling while running or jogging can cause cuts and abrasions.

Risk factors for running injuries

Some of the factors that can increase the risk of injury while running or jogging include:

  • Overtraining: Running beyond your current fitness level can put muscles, tendons, and ligaments under strain. Skin pain is a common overuse injury in runners.
  • Wrong technique: – poor running technique can increase the risk of injury. For example, running with a flat foot pulls on the calf muscles and can cause tiny tears.
  • Running shoes: Your running shoes can increase the risk of various injuries, including blisters and pain in the lower leg.
  • Wrong clothing: Wrong clothing can cause overheating, sunburn, or cold damage.
  • Hard surfaces: The effect of running on hard surfaces, such as bitumen, can cause injuries, including pain in the legs and stress fractures.

Health suggestions for running and jogging

Some tips to prevent injuries include:

  • Warm-up before you run. Include many easy and sustained stretches. Make sure you stretch the muscles in the thighs.
  • Cool down after running. Include stretches in your cooling down routine.
  • Drink plenty of water right before and after the run.
  • Do not push too hard beyond your fitness level. 
  • Start easy at a pace where you can have a conversation without heavy breathing.
  • Avoid running on the hottest part of the day in summer. Plan to run in the morning.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ on all exposed areas of the skin.
  • Wear layers of clothing on the upper body to avoid overheating. Wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Consider having a regular professional massage to relax tight, sore muscles.
  • Avoid running near roads. Inhalation of vehicle exhaust can cause several breathing-related (respiratory) problems.
  • Run on a clear, smooth, even, and reasonably soft surface. Avoid uneven surfaces, sand, and concrete.
  • Gradually introduce surface changes.

Do not wear regular sneakers when running. Professionally running shoes designed for running will support your feet and reduce the risk of injury.

What to do if you injure yourself

The proposals include:

  • Stop running. Trying to “push through” the pain will only worsen the injury.
  • See your GP immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Treat soft tissue injuries such as ligaments or muscle sprains with rest, ice packs, compression, and lifting (raises the injured area above your heart).
  • Do not run again until the injury is completely healed. In the meantime, switch to a low-impact form of exercise that does not aggravate the injury, such as swimming.
  • Ask your doctor, physiotherapist, or other healthcare professional for medical advice before you start running again.

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