Strategies to Prevent Your Running Pain

Strategies to Prevent Your Running Pain  

  

Running is an exhilarating way to exercise, but it’s also fraught with injury potential, especially when you are just starting.   

 

Shin splints, rolled ankles, knee pain, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis. The places you can hurt don’t seem to end. Even the healthiest of runners get hurt eventually, so everyone needs to work on preventing injury from the outset. 

 

At Daniels Chiropractic in Racine, Caledonia, and Mt Pleasant, we see lots of people in pain and help them. But we also like to educate our clients so they can avoid as much pain as possible. Here are some tips to keep you healthy, on pace, and to make progress on your running goals by preventing injury.   

  

Take It Slow 

 

It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t go too fast, too soon. As a rookie runner, you may feel like you can push your limits and see significant progress. You may go for a while, but you may also injure yourself before you even realize it. The human body has a threshold that, when exceeded, results in injury.  

 

A good, first habit is to track your mileage on a daily and weekly basis. For beginner runners, even healthy people, your weekly mileage should begin quite low. 

 

As you improve, you will want to increase your mileage gradually. The running community consensus is to follow the rule of 10%. The rule means that you do not increase your distance by any more than 10% on a week to week basis.  

 

For new runners, 10% may even be too much of an increase. Listen to your body during and after each run and adjust as needed.  

 

Are you preparing for a race? The rule of 10% means you need to start early so that you have plenty of time to ramp up to the final distance.  

 

Can you train and complete a half marathon in 6 weeks? Sure, but the toll it could take on your body and the injury risk is not worth it.  

 

 

Slow and Steady Wins … Finishes the Race 

 

A recent study shows that runners who increased their mileage by just 3% a week had a much higher rate of success in the races they were preparing for than runners who ramped up their mileage more quickly.  

 

If you are a new runner, start with short runs. Your miles will still add up quickly as you run daily or every other day. To understand how far you have been running, use an exercise app on your phone such as Map My Run or even Google Fit, to help track each run.  

 

Gradually increase your miles and listen to your body. You may find that you feel fine after running 20 miles a week, for example. But, when you increase it to 24 miles in a week, you begin to feel discomfort. Or outright pain. Now you know that you need to dial it back to 20 miles for another week. The following week you may add miles but increase it much more gradually this time. 

 

Pain is Not Your Friend 

  

Of course, some discomfort is normal when you begin a new sport like running. Even long-term runners feel discomfort regularly. After the long run, your legs and feet will likely be sore. That’s normal. But if what you feel is pain and not just discomfort, you may need to take a break. It’s just not smart to run through significant pain.  

 

Pain is not your friend when it comes to running. 

 

The idea of taking a break may seem inconceivable. But it could save you from a more severe injury. Aside from the odd rolled ankle, very few running injuries are acute. That means it is often possible to keep going and run through the pain. Many runners ignore their pain, call it a mild discomfort, and tough it out. 

 

That would be a mistake. Ignoring real pain can result in a stress injury and, eventually, a cumulative injury cycle. This is a much more significant issue.  

 

However, just taking a day or two off when your symptoms are still minor can give your body time to recover.  

 

If you don’t listen and back off, then your body can adapt and alter your gait or running pattern. This altered gait will probably be worse for you. Your running will be less efficient. You can develop bad habits. And what’s worse, you can develop an injury somewhere else in your body.  

 

Remember, the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone. The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone… so the song goes. The point is that everything is connected to your body. A problem in one place stresses a different part of your body. 

 

Running with a limp won’t end there. Something else will hurt soon. 

 

So, let your body recover when you feel pain.  

  

Take It All In Stride 

 

There’s newer research that has demonstrated the increase of ground reaction force with a longer stride as you run. The increased force causes micro traumas that can lead to chronic injuries and pain. 

 

Conversely, a shorter stride decreases the force on your legs, knees, hips, and feet. If you have consistent pain in your shins or a recurring lower leg injury, try changing your stride length. Take shorter runs and focus on taking shorter strides while running.  

 

To keep up your same pace as before, you will need to move your legs faster. But it’s worth it to see if you get injured less often. Retraining your running pattern will take a while to get used to, but in time you can make the transition. 

 

 Warm-Up   

 

Skipping this step is a mistake. Fitting in a dynamic warm-up before you head out on the run will decrease your chances of injury. A dynamic warm-up means warming up your muscles while moving rather than a traditional stretch. 

 

Here are a few ideas: 

  

  • Forward Lunges  

  • Side Lunges  

  • Body Weight Squats  

  • High Knee Walking  

  • Single-Leg Deadlifts  

  

These dynamic warm-up exercises will get your blood flowing to the muscles and prepare you to run.   

  

Cool Down 

After a run, do some stretching and foam rolling to help your muscles recover.  Be creative and do your favorite stretches, taking about 15-20 minutes to stretch out. 

 

When you foam roll, stay in a region for 1-2 minutes, not much more, or it’s just overdoing it. 

 

A Caution: If you have gone on an extended run (15 miles +), allow your body to cool down BEFORE stretching. When you are running longer distances, your muscles will develop micro-tears. These tears can be further injured if you stretch the tissues right after the run. Rest for 2 hours, but don’t forget to stretch before the end of the day.   

  

A Few Final Runner Tips 

 

  • Stay hydrated. 

  • Fuel your body with nutrients. 

  • Add in strength training as soon as you can. 

  • Add in REST days where you move your body in a slower way than running: a swim, a walk, an easy hike.  

 

Come See Us 

Running injuries can get worse over time, so do not delay getting treatment. If you are in pain, we can help. 

At Daniels Chiropractic, we can address issues that have developed throughout the body. We can get your spine back into its normal position and increase your mobility and flexibility. We will work with your primary doctor or a specialist to set up a full treatment plan. 

 

We are committed to helping you feel, move, and live better. Give us a call at 262.638.9999 to make an appointment. 

 

Daniels Chiropractic Office 

2609 Rapids Drive 

Racine, WI 53404 

Phone: 262.638.9999 

Fax: 262.638.0742