The Best of Strength Running: Injury Prevention and Treatment

by Jason Fitzgerald

Today is the first of a 3-part series highlighting the best material on Strength Running.

The focus today is on injury prevention. Those of you on my private email list know that you get opportunities to help shape the content here on the blog, plus I regularly ask what your #1 struggle is with running.

Based on those surveys, it’s clear that preventing injuries and being more consistent is a top concern.

And for good reason: preventing injuries and running well over the long-term is the fastest way to become a better runner. Some injury studies put the injury rate among runners as high as 70% per year. That’s staggeringly high!

But how do you stay healthy? It’s easier said than done. This is some of the general advice I’ve seen from other running “experts:”

Just take a week off from running, you’ll be fine.

Ice it and take some Advil!

Don’t run so much – humans aren’t meant to run for longer than 5 miles.

Did you remember to stretch before you started running?

These injury prevention strategies simply don’t work. They’re overly simplistic tactics that don’t address the real cause of why runners get hurt. And clearly, the current injury rate proves that they’re woefully ineffective.

Here at Strength Running, my goal is to give you complete injury prevention suggestions that go beyond the standard RICE treatments. Getting healthy – and staying that way – is more than just strength exercises, icing, recovery, or flexibility work. It’s the combination of everything put together in one well-rounded plan.

I’ve even been writing a significant number of “injury treatment plans” for runners with ITBS (since it’s the injury I know so much about). Instead of a personal training plan it’s a personal recovery plan.

So far, runners are seeing results:

“For the first time in 7 years, I have hope that I may be able to run again! I’ve been to physical therapy twice and had no luck getting my knees to the point of running again. You’re the first to give me hope! Thanks!” – Jill

“I spent 3-4 weeks floundering around, hoping the problem would simply go away with the usual RICE treatment. Unsatisfied by my lack of progress, I got serious and started looking for better options. Luckily, I found the ITB Rehab Routine here, and within another 2-3 weeks was back to running pain free, and have been ever since.” – Brandon

Today, I want to showcase the best of Strength Running’s injury prevention content to help you refocus on staying healthy and achieving your running goals.

How to Aggressively Treat IT Band Syndrome

IT Band Syndrome (or ITBS) is the injury that I am personally most susceptible to since I was out for six months with it after the 2008 NYC Marathon. Rest, ice, or stretching are almost completely ineffective – I learned that the hard way so learn from my bad example!

Instead, after seeing multiple physical therapists and researching the best ways of fighting ITBS, I developed the ITB Rehab Routine. It has more than 27,000 (!) views on YouTube and has helped thousands get over their IT Band problems. It can help you too.

Prevent & Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be one of the most stubborn injuries to heal, partially because you can never truly rest your feet since you use them all the time to walk. It’s also one of the injuries that respond best to a very aggressive treatment plan – which this article recommends.

PF is an inflammation of the plantar fascia along the underside of your foot from the heel to the ball of your foot. Typically most sore in the morning when you get out of bed, it can slowly get loose during the course of the day. Most runners experience pain closer to the heel rather than the ball of the foot.

Eight “Little Things” that Prevent Overuse Injuries

Every runner has a vague idea that “I should take care of myself” and not to “burn the candle at both ends.” But how do you actually take care of your legs so you can continue training at a high level? What are the specific strategies to prevent injuries and promote health?

This article gives you eight specific ways to recover faster, minimize exercise damage (when appropriate – you actually want some running damage!), and feel more prepared to tackle your next workout. Just read all 117 comments to see the injury struggles runners are facing – it’s staggering.

Don’t Let Your Engine Outpace Your Chassis

Many runners get overzealous with their running and do too much, too soon, too fast. The real reason that the “three too’s” are so dangerous is because your body (bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments) get stronger at a slower rate than your aerobic capacity (lungs and heart).

So even though that quick 8 miler felt comfortable, your body wasn’t ready to handle it. So you get hurt.

This article goes into more detail on this topic plus gives you actionable strategies you can implement today to get stronger and prevent more injuries.

How to Develop Running Coordination and Athleticism

Let’s be honest: even some very fast runners are horrible athletes. Ask them to shoot a basketball, kick a soccer ball, or dance and you’ll see some laughable movements.

But being coordinated enough to move athletically is crucial to staying healthy. If you can’t put on your shoes without sitting down (i.e., if you fall down), do a one-legged squat, or sprint well then you have a coordination problem. I believe these are early signs of injury risk.

This post encourages you to incorporate a variety of exercises and types of running into your training so you can become a more well-rounded athlete. I also include two videos of routines that have helped me stay injury free for over three years.

Training Variations Can Help You Avoid Injuries

One of the first articles I ever wrote for Strength Running, this seemingly simple strategy has important implications for every runner.

Do you run the same running route, on the same surface, at the same speed, in the same shoes, at the same time of day for every single run? If so, I not only think you’re boring, but you’re setting yourself up for an overuse injury. Most aches and pains that runners battle are repetitive stress injuries – they’re caused by the same movement pattern being done over and over again.

Of course, running is naturally a repetitive motion. But you can subtly change that stress by varying many aspects of your training from pace to terrain and shoe selection. Each variation changes how your body is being stressed during that particular workout – and could help you stay healthy.

Injury Prevention for Runners

The most comprehensive, step-by-step prevention and treatment program for runners. With 15+ high quality videos, interviews with the world’s leading experts, and a library of training plans this resource shows chronically injured runners how to finally stay healthy.

If you like these tutorials, share the love. Click to tweet: “Damn, @JasonFitz1’s injury prevention advice really works (see the best here)”

Get even more injury prevention advice by joining my free newsletter here or in the form below. You’ll get access to:

  • A core and running drill circuit workout to help prevent one-dimensional fitness
  • Illustrations of each exercise in the Standard Warm-up, Cannonball, and Standard Core Routine
  • The comprehensive “Strength and Core Routines Ultimate Resource Guide”

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Greg Strosaker

To me Fitz, the value in your injury prevention/recovery approaches is more than the specifics of dealing with each type of injury. It’s the concept that RICE is outdated and that strength and mobility work to address your weaknesses works far better than any rest- or stretching-based regime ever could. I think when runners keep that in mind, they are better able to make the necessary adjustments on an ongoing basis to head off minor pains before they turn into downtime-generating injuries.
Obviously specific recommendations on Achilles tendinitis and other maladies are helpful, but with the right framework a resourceful runner can put together various bodyweight exercises and other elements (massage, active isolated stretching, etc.) to treat themselves and usually get it more right than many physical therapists do.

Jason Fitzgerald

Absolutely, agree 100%! I think the specific tactics are helpful, but the overall strategy is much more important like you said. And unless a runner is going to a PT who’s ALSO a runner, I’m not convinced that person is going to be much of a help at all…

Billy Dean

Years ago, there was a cartoon, probably in Runners World, that showed a runner sitting on the examination table talking with a doctor:

“Doc, I need something for pain.”
“Where is your pain?” asked the doctor.
“In my legs.” answered the runner.
“When do they hurt?” asked the doctor.
“When I run.” answered the runner.
“Don’t run.” advised the doctor.
“Doc, you don’t understand…”

Exactly. We need to run, and despite our tendency to ignore the difference between pain we can run through and pain we should not run through, we are going to run. Inside every runner is something that needs to move body, mind and spirit along a trail or a road. My enthusiasm for running sometimes gets the better of my good judgment. And since I am an older runner, I don’t heal as quickly as I once did. So your advice for preventing injuries is really valuable, Jason, because I get really ornery when I can’t run!

Ygreck

It takes time to understand how to Run Smart.

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