Running Injuries: The Ultimate Runner’s Guide to Injury Prevention

Running Injury

Tired of running injuries? Aren’t we all! When the majority of runners get injured every year, it’s clear that we’re not doing enough to stay healthy.

In fact, some studies put the annual injury rate up to 80%! Look at this research:

  • Runner’s World reports that anywhere from 20-80% of runners get hurt each year
  • This study puts the injury rate at 37-56%
  • Harvard reports that 30-75% of runners will suffer a running injury each year

Clearly, injury prevention should be a top goal for every runner.

But too many runners think that they don’t have time for injury prevention work because they’d rather be running – or worse, that injury prevention “interferes” with their running.

Unfortunately, that’s backwards! A focus on preventing running injuries enables your running!

Thankfully, you only need about 15 minutes per day outside of running to prevent the serious running injuries that derail your training.

Sure, aches and pains will still happen (that’s just part of being a runner), but if you follow this advice you’ll dramatically cut down your injury risk, stay healthy for longer, and ultimately get faster.

How to Prevent and Treat Running Injuries

Prevention is much easier than treatment, so  focus on that first. It’s easy to pretend like you don’t have time but even just 20 minutes of focused injury prevention efforts can dramatically cut your risk of running injuries.

I’ve put together an enormous number of resources to help you cut your injury risk, stay healthy long-term, and avoid the chronic aches and pains that often derail our running.

Get started with this 3-part approach to prevent running injuries:

1. Prevent running injuries by training smarter

To successfully stay healthy and prevent running injuries, your training must be smart – designed in such a way to prioritize injury prevention.

This is far more important than strength training. That’s because…

…no amount of strength work can make up for poor training habits! Start with these posts:

Once these concepts are understood, you wont make as many training errors. Your training will be more strategic – and will precent far more running injuries.

2. Stay healthy by getting stronger

One of the easiest ways to stay healthy and prevent running injuries is to get stronger. Most runners lack basic movement skills and functional strength, making them more predisposed to getting hurt.

Start with doing one of the routines below after each of your runs. The “Standard Core” and “ITB Rehab Routine” are two that I think every runner needs.

3. Prevent injuries by learning from other runners

If you’re struggling with injuries, then you’re not alone! The majority of runners get hurt every year, but there’s still time to turn it all around and stay healthy.

For a jolt of inspiration and a “how-to” explanation of how other runners healed their running injuries and ran massive personal bests, check out these success stories:

My favorite is this free book – detailing the recovery and prevention advice of nine elite athletes.

These are motivating. And they’re also educational: learn the mindsets, strategies, and tactics to prevent your next running injury.

Injury Prevention Tools, Gear, and Gadgets

You don’t need thousands of dollars of gear and gadgets to stay healthy. In fact, you only need a few simple tools:

Foam RollerA simple self-massage tool, it can help increase flexibility, break up scar tissue, reduce myofascial adhesions, and loosen you up before running. Use it once a week or up to every day!

Medicine Ball: Perfect for beginner or advanced runners, a medicine ball can be used for a variety of strength exercises. They’re inexpensive and you can purchase more than one for different levels of difficulty.

I recommend the brand Valeo as they’re attractive, have a great rubber grip, and don’t cost too much.

Thera-band (for the ITB Rehab Routine): A Thera-band is simply an exercise band that can make some body-weight exercises more challenging by increasing the resistance. It’s portable and perfect for traveling.

Here’s a more comprehensive video outlining the key ingredients to any home gym for runners:

Recommended Books About Running Injuries

Running injuries don’t happen in isolation – they’re often because of poor training habits. That’s why this list of books is more about training than running injuries.

But for books that focus on injury prevention, these are my top 4 picks:

If I had a gun to my head, I’d pick Run Faster for the most thorough explanation of proper training for runners.

1. Run Faster from the 5k to Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald

My favorite training book of all-time, Run Faster outlines Brad Hudson’s complete training system that he used with Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. There are plans for the 5k-Marathon and a great opportunity to see into the mind of an elite coach. Perfect for everyone – a great book to understand why certain training works.

2. Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running by Peter Larson, PhD and Bill Katovsky

This running book is perfect for anyone who loves running shoes or has injury problems. In other words, everyone. It shows you how to correct your running form (if you need to), what shoes are best for particular foot types according to the latest research (it’s NOT what you think), and what to avoid to stay healthy. It can be a little dense, but it’s beautifully written and accessible for those who don’t want to wade through scientific jargon.

3. Brain Training for Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results by Matt Fitzgerald

This is a fantastic read on the relationship between your body and mind while running, with an interesting take on running injuries. It looks at running from a mental perspective and offers strategies to get faster based on new research into the brain.

4. Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry

This book is fantastic for those who want to understand why runners get hurt. From prevention work to the importance of balance and “putting your big toe down,” this book is an amazing resource for injury-prone runners. Author Jay Dicharry provides a unique perspective as a coach, biomechanics expert, and physical therapist – a must read for every runner.

5. Daniels’ Running Formula: Proven Programs 800m to the Marathon by Jack Daniels, PhD

This book is for the running nerds out there. If you’re interested in determining your VO2 Max or lactate threshold and want to design a training program based on science – buy this book. It’s been one of the best training resources I’ve had for the last 7 years. It’s also one of the seminal training books available.

How to Treat Running Injuries

Strength Running has published many articles helping you treat your own overuse injuries. Remember that these are simply guides, not comprehensive treatment protocols.

And depending on how much time off you need from your running injuries, here’s how to plan your comeback:

Resources that go into more depth about Achilles tendinopathy, IT band syndrome, muscle strains, Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), shin splints, and plantar fasciitis are included in this free injury prevention course.

Thousands of runners have successfully treated their running injuries with Strength Running programs.

But don’t take my word for it – check out these results.

Injury Prevention Resources for Runners

Do you want to reach your potential as a runner? Maybe that means:

  • Run a new Personal Best in your next race (whatever the distance)
  • Finally qualify for the Boston Marathon!
  • Stay healthy for longer than you ever have before
  • Run higher mileage (which almost always means you’ll race faster!)

No matter your goal, preventing running injuries can help you get there. I often call CONSISTENCY the “secret sauce” to successful running.

And what’s the best way to stay consistent? Prevent more running injuries!

Just think – if you’re rarely injured, you’ll be able to run more mileage, challenge yourself with more consistent workouts, and run more races. Your fitness will skyrocket and your finish times will plummet.

I’m happy to share the lessons I learned the hard way since I started running in 1998 – and the strategies I discovered when getting my USATF coaching certification and after helping thousands of runners just like you stay healthy.

I’ve created an injury prevention email course that you can enroll in – for free. Just sign up below and you’ll get:

  • Why is injury prevention so important? Is it for everyone?
  • Case studies of successful runners who have stayed healthy long-term
  • Q&A on the top questions about running injuries
  • When are the riskiest times for getting injured? (coaching lesson)
  • The biggest injury mistakes (and how to avoid them)
  • A lot more!

Want it all? Get your free course here!

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