While the benefits of running are vast, the physical demands of the sport can take a toll on the body.
Injuries are a very common setback among runners. While a one-time trauma can result in immediate injury, other injuries happen over time. Overuse injuries fall into this category.
In this context, “overuse” is an umbrella term for various factors that can over time lead to injury. Too often with these injuries, runners ignore the warning signs—localized soreness, ache, or inflammation—until they become persistent problems.
What causes an overuse injury?
- Increasing mileage at a rate greater than 10% each week.
- Taking too few (or no) rest days, critical for muscle repair.
- Running strictly on hard surface, putting stress on the joints and muscles.
- Uphill and downhill running stress on front leg muscles and knees, respectively.
- Running in the wrong type of shoe for your foot type.
- Running in old shoes.
- Leg alignment issues.
How can overuse injuries be managed/prevented?
- Follow the 10% rule—runners and sports physicians endorse it for a reason.
- Take rest days. Your muscles need a day—or, following an especially challenging or aggressive run, more than a day—to repair. Some runners are uncomfortable with rest days, believing they’ll jeopardize their fitness. This is not the case. Rest days are an essential part of your overall regimen, keeping you healthy, strong, and run-ready.
- Vary your surfaces. If you regularly run on sidewalk or pavement, try running on dirt, grass, or track surface once or twice per week. If these options aren’t available to you, try the treadmill – the surface absorbs more shock at heel strike.
- Wear the right shoes. Finding the pair of running shoes that’s right for you can be a challenge. Many specialty running stores (including Jersey City’s Runners High) offer courtesy foot analyses, helping you take the guesswork out of shoe-buying.
- Replace your running shoes every 300-550 miles.
- Go to a sports physician. A sports physician will outline a recovery plan for you. These plans typically involve rest and/or cross-training, and in some cases, physical therapy.