Want to Run More in 2021? Here’s How to Prevent Injuries


’21 Goal to Run More? Here’s How to Prevent Injuries

By Nicholas Schumacher O2X Injury Prevention Specialist (DPT, CSCS)

As a time-efficient way to burn extensive calories without any expensive equipment, many of us are looking to run more. However, this high-impact activity comes with its fair share of injury risk. Let’s break down some common running-related repetitive-stress injuries and how you can curb your chances of getting one!

Injury – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS):

This injury is often described as a diffuse ache under the kneecap. Although this is not a serious injury, it can result in knee arthritis down the road. 

Weakness of your quadriceps and glutes can result in excessive impact forces through the kneecap.

1. Quadriceps stretching
2. Bridges (double or single-leg)
3. Squats (double or single-leg)
4. Single-leg deadlifts 

Injury – Achilles Tendinopathy:

This injury will present itself as pain directly in your Achilles tendon (back of your ankle). If caught early (tendinitis), rest will suffice. However, if left unchecked for too long, a chronic “tendinosis” can occur. This can take a much longer course of rehab to recover from. 

Weakness in the calf muscles can result in excessive stress to the Achilles tendon. 

1. Calf raises (progress to single-leg off a step)
2. Single-leg hopping with focus on softly landing on the toes 

Injury – Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints): 

This injury presents as a nagging pain in the inner portion of your lower leg. This is certainly an injury you don’t want to let linger too long. Pushing through this injury can result in a stress fracture, which will likely put you in a walking boot and out of running for 12+ weeks.    

Similar to Achilles tendinopathy, weakness in the calf can certainly contribute to this injury. Additionally, altered running form due to calf tightness and ramping up your running volume too quickly are major injury risk factors. 

1. Calf raises (progress to single-leg off a step)
2. Single-leg hopping with focus on softly landing on the toes
3. Calf stretching
4. Slowly ramp up running mileage and intensity
5. Focus on landing softly when running
6. Try running on soft surfaces when available 

Some Words of Wisdom: 

  • If you put more stress on a region of the body that has not had time to develop the capacity to handle this stress, then you are destined for injury. It’s a simple equation. 
  • Prioritize strength over flexibility. The majority of running-related injuries are primarily due to weakness in a muscle, not stiffness. There is a place for stretching, but don’t make it your only priority.
  • Footwear is not everything. Numerous studies have concluded that changing footwear does not change injury risk. Run in what is comfortable for you and only you! 
  • Be consistent. Your body will better manage multiple short runs per week than the occasional long one. 
  • Don’t let dehydration limit your run. For most runs under an hour, water is really all you need. Consider investing in a running backpack (for longer runs) or running water bottle (for shorter runs). Here are a couple examples to check out: FREEMOVE Hydration Pack and Hydrapak SoftFlask.