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How to Prevent Running Injuries

Learn how to prevent running injuries from competitive runners Doug Oldiges and Stephanie Coburn in this Howcast video.


Sometimes, when you start a new training program, injuries are almost inevitable. There are things you can do to help prevent them before they occur. Three things that I am going to talk about are shin splints, an Achilles tendonitis, and IT band syndrome.

What happens with shin splints is sometimes people start a training plan too quickly, or they start out running too fast. Whether it's increasing your speed too quickly or increasing your training load too quickly, that can cause inflammation in the shin area. If you don't have a properly fitting pair of running sneakers, maybe your sneakers are too small, maybe your sneakers are too worn out.

If you start to feel that inflammation or that pressure in your shin, try to take a few days off from running. Let that inflammation go down. One thing that people do is taking a small Dixie cup, filling it with water and putting it in the freezer. When that freezes, you can run that along the shins to help to reduce the inflammation a little bit. Try to replace your running sneakers. Perhaps you're not wearing the right pair of sneakers. This can help as well.

One stretch that you can do is getting down on the ground, sitting on your calves, and pointing your toes away from you. This will stretch the shin area just a little bit. Another thing that you can do, you can just take your thumbs and run your fingers along the shin to maybe work out a little bit of that soreness. Try the Dixie cup, try stretching it, try a little self massage.

Another ailment that runners get is IT band syndrome. What happens is along this area here, it gets really tight and if you let it go too far, it can actually pull your knee out of alignment and cause a little bit of knee pain. Again, you might have to take some time off of running, but a stretch that you can do if you start to feel that happen is taking your foot, resting it on the opposite knee, and just kind of stretching it just a little bit. And you start to feel that along here.

One thing that you can do is get a foam roller, your local running store, your local sports store will have what we call marathon massage sticks, or large foam rollers. What you can do is you can actually put your body weight, you can use your own body weight to help massage those knots out, massage out that tightness.

If you start to get tight calves, you'll start to feel it here, in your Achilles tendon which goes from your calf muscle and wraps down around your heel. If you have tight calves and start to feel that, this can also cause a domino effect and start to cause pain in the arch of your foot.

One thing you can do to loosen up your calves a little bit is doing a calf stretch, so if you find a surface to point up your toes, lean into a little bit, and stretch out your calves. You can do that before a run, a dynamic stretch where you go back and forth a little bit. Or if you've gone after your run and you want to loosen up your calves, you can lean into that stretch, and hold it for a little bit. Try to do dynamic stretching before your run and static stretching after your run. These are some tips that will help prevent injury so that you can continue running.

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