How to Lower Your Risk of Running Injuries

running in Brasilia, Brasil, avoiding running injuries

Image by Tikkho Maciel via Unsplash

I don’t know a single runner who wants to deal with running injuries.

Yet many runners, perhaps as many as half of us, end up with a running injury each year!

That’s a number that blows my mind. Yet when I think about the group of folks that I regularly run with, the statistic seems about right.

If you’re comfortable with a 50/50 chance of sustaining a running related injury, keep doing what you’re doing. In fact, don’t even bother reading the rest of this post.

If, however, you’d rather avoid the injury bug, read on!


5 Common Mistakes Runners Make That Increase The Risk of Running Injuries

Let me be clear about one thing: there is no way to eliminate running injuries completely.

Sorry. I wish I had a miracle suggestion to prevent any and all running injuries, but there is no such thing.

That said, there are several mistakes that runners make which may result in an injury.

Do you find yourself committing any of the following common mistakes?

  • Rapidly increasing mileage: As humans, we tend to struggle with patience. So, while the rule of thumb is to increase your weekly runs by no more than 10% of the previous week’s distance, many runners think they are the exception to that rule. This is especially common when coming back from an injury and you try to ramp your mileage back up to your pre-injury levels ASAP. Patience, young grasshopper.
  • Following a training plan to the letter: A training plan can be a great thing, and it can also be a complete nightmare. If you have a training plan, remember that it is not written in stone. In actuality, your training plan is little more than a suggestion for what workouts you should be doing to reach your goals. Most of the time, it’s fine to follow the plan. But if your body is sending you signals that you need to swap an interval session with an easy run, cut back the day’s total distance, or take a day off completely, you should probably pay attention and adjust your plan accordingly. If your body is trying to tell you something is amiss, you’d be wise to listen.
  • Skipping strength sessions: Strength training is so important to runners, and yet many of us routinely skip our strength training sessions. Increasing muscle strength, maintaining muscle balance, and improving core stability are all benefits of regular strength training that will directly reduce your risk of developing a running related injury. And just in case you’re worried, you’re not going to end up looking like a body builder by doing a couple of strength training sessions per week. I promise.
  • Neglecting Adequate Rest: Most people don’t sleep enough. You may think you function just fine on five to six hours of sleep per night, but very few people actually do. Our bodies do most of their work when we are sleeping, so getting enough sleep is vital to staying healthy. There’s no universal amount of required hours of sleep each night, but most folks could use an extra 30-60 minutes (at least!). In addition to sleeping more, don’t forget about rest days either. I know run streaks are popular with some runners, but a regular day off from running can rejuvenate and refresh both the body and the mind.
  • Forgoing Routine Maintenance: There are several little things you can do on a daily/weekly basis that will help keep your body running (pun intended) on all cylinders. Regular foam rolling is a great way to break up adhesions in your muscles. Yoga and pilates are both terrific ways to increase your flexibility while building core strength and stability. Eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water are important for your general health. Making the “little things” a regular part of your routine is a great way to protect you from an assortment of running injuries in the future.


Tilt the Injury Odds in Your Favor

Like I said at the beginning of this post, not many runners want to get injured. Yet half of us do.

If you’re consistently making these mistakes over and over, you’re playing with fire and eventually you will get burned.

So why not correct those mistakes?

Every one of these mistakes is correctable, and if you do so, you’ll dramatically reduce your risk of ever dealing with a running injuries again.

So, what are you waiting for?

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.