Anyone who has suffered a running injury knows – preventing them is far easier than treating them! Below, Calvin Deutsch, a Sports Physical Therapist with Deutsch Physiotherapy Co., offers tips to help prevent running injuries.
This is Part 3 in his series about running injury treatment and prevention. You can read his previous articles here:
What exercises do you recommend to help prevent running injuries?
Yes. I’ve put together a Videos page on my website that includes all of them.
These exercises hit three main components of running injuries: mobility, neuromuscular strength/control and muscle management.
What pre- and post-run stretches do you recommend runners do to help prevent injuries?
There is a wide variety of pre- and post-run activities. In general, make sure to include a 5-10 minute dynamic warmup and a 5-10 minute cooldown/stretch period.
The main focus of a pre-run program is to generally and literally warm up your body, get your heart and lungs going and prepare your joints/muscles for the activity you are about to perform. There are large variations in dynamic warmups and most of them are ok – you can’t really go wrong.
Follow this link for a pretty good example of a basic warmup: http://runninghutch.com/workouts/runner-warm-up/
The main purpose of a post-run or cooldown program should be to gradually reduce the stress to your heart, lungs, muscles and joints, in addition to allowing clearance of acidic byproducts produced during your run. A large amount of ‘next day soreness’ can be reduced through incorporation of a simple five-minute cooldown.
Traditional static (hold for 30 sec) stretching is best to perform as part of a post-run program to take advantage of the susceptibility of warm muscles to a lengthened position. (Think of heated plastic that cools to a mold). Simple stretching of your calf, hamstrings, quads and hips are good and can be accomplished a variety of ways.
General incorporation of a pre- and post-run program yields high return on time investment and is part of managing your total running plan. Each runner’s plan should involve running, a pre/post-run program and therapeutic elements. The therapeutic elements may include mobility and strength exercises as well as muscle management via foam rolling or similar devices. The actual running part is what we want to spend the most time on and when time is at a premium we think we don’t want to ‘waste’ it on warmup, cooldown, etc. When this view is tweaked to understand that the actual running is only part of the whole program, then the injury risk goes way down and we see happier, healthier runners.
Are there any other steps runners can take to help prevent injuries?
The biggest recommendation I have is for each runner to make sure that they are headed down the right path via a basic evaluation. You can find 100 stretches and 200 strength exercises and tons of other things to do for each injury or issue you face when you search online or talk to friends. I see a fair amount of consistency with injuries but each injury for each runner is a little different, and the mixture and timing of certain exercises and treatments in the right order seems to be the key. It’s just like ingredients and recipes – you need to mix the ingredients the right way to get the desired product of the recipe.
So a basic initial evaluation or assessment is crucial to outline a personal injury prevention or performance plan. We have all had our share of injuries, aches and pains over the years and those things leave a footprint on our biomechanics. Our daily lives are all a bit different and that has a large effect on our exercise functionality. Finding a good person to perform this evaluation is very helpful and serves as a good resource for future concerns or questions.
I see a lot of patients that have minimal or no real injuries, but they come in 4-10 times per year to ensure that they are doing everything they need to do, keep their muscles healthy and fine-tune their biomechanics.
Of course I’m biased to seeing a good physical therapist who knows a lot about athletes and running, but a good personal trainer, massage therapist, chiropractor or athletic trainer are usually good people to look for and maintain contact with.
Thanks so much for all the great information, Calvin! For more information on running injuries or for answers to specific questions, you can connect with Calvin here:
Phone Number: 414-395-1079
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!