Top 5 Exercises for Preventing Running Injuries

Running is an activity that is enjoyed by many people (including ourselves!). It can be a stress reliever and is super-beneficial for your cardiovascular system. It is an activity that comes naturally to most people and is a good way to enhance your endurance and keep your weight down. Many people of all ages enjoy this leisure activity but unfortunately, it is common to see injury in this field.

The benefits of running are plenty. It improves cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease, and increasing lung capacity. Running also helps to maintain a healthy weight by burning calories and improving metabolism. It can also reduce stress levels and improve mental health by releasing endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals.

Although good for you, running can result in joint injuries such as tendonitis (patellar, Achilles), muscle strains (calves), shin splints, and occasionally stress fractures. There are many ways to ensure you minimise the risk of injury. For example, running in appropriate footwear, engaging in strength and flexibility training and consulting your physiotherapist at Surrey Physio before an issue becomes worse.

At Surrey Physio we have a lot of experience with running injuries. In fact, every year we send 10-15 physiotherapists to volunteer at the London Marathon, and one of our team is the Lead Physiotherapist for the London Marathon course.

One of the most overlooked aspects is a runner's shoes/trainers, making sure you have a suitable pair of trainers that support your feet is significant to reduce injuries.

Running Shoe Tips:

  • Inspect the heel of the trainer to make sure they are not worn out.
  • Get the correct shoe fit for you, this includes stability.
  • Make sure your shoe has sufficient cushioning.
  • If you are a regular running, aim to replace your trainers regularly.

Do not underestimate the power of a cool down and warm up, most will either do one or the other. Engaging in both can really help with performance, engaging in a warmup has been shown to get not only the body prepared but also the mind. Participating in a cool down is also beneficial to reduce soreness and stiffness after a run, potentially reducing injury.

Compliment your running with a strength and conditioning (S&C) program to help you get to the next level. Studies have shown, runners that engage in regular S&C are more less likely to pick up an injury. S&C can improve your strength, flexibility, balance and core stability which are all essential when running at any level.

Proper technique is also crucial to injury prevention in running. Maintaining proper posture, engaging the core muscles, and landing with a midfoot or forefoot strike can reduce the impact on the joints and muscles, reducing the risk of injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

Gradual progression is another critical aspect of injury prevention in running. It's essential to start with a comfortable pace and distance and gradually increase over several weeks to prevent overuse injuries. It's also essential to listen to the body and rest when necessary, allowing for proper recovery and reducing the risk of injuries.

At Surrey Physio we can take your running to the next level, try these 5 exercises below.

How to do a Hamstring stretch

Standing up, place your foot on a chair. Keep your leg straight. You should feel a stretch behind your knee and into the back of your thigh. To make the stretch stronger, push your leg downwards into the chair, or rest your foot on something higher. This exercise will stretch your hamstring muscle group. Hold the stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds, and repeat for a minimum of three sets. Build it up to a combined total of two to three minutes.

How to do a Quadriceps stretch

Pull your foot towards your bottom. If you are unsteady on your feet, make sure you hold on to something sturdy next to you like a wall or a table. You will feel a stretch to the quadricep muscles at the front of your thigh. Hold stretches for thirty seconds and perform three sets.

Lateral walk with exercise band

Place an exercise band around your knees and go into a squat position (as far down as feels comfortable). Walk one leg to the side, and then follow with the other leg. Repeat to one side for five steps, then return to the start position. This is a great strengthening exercise, and perform three sets of five reps to each side.

Calf raises one leg step

Stand on a step, hold onto a handrail for balance if required. Slowly raise up onto your toes and control the movement back down just below the level of the step. This exercise will strengthen the calf muscle and ankle joint, but at the bottom of the movement put a stretch through the calf as well. Repeat 25 to 50 reps, for three sets.

Copenhagen Adductor Plank Exercise

Rest on your side, with your bottom leg and elbow bent to 90 degrees. Place your top leg on a chair or high step. Lift your pelvis from the floor. Elevate your bottom leg so your knees touch. Hold this position and relax. Repeat two sets of ten reps. This is a strengthening exercise for your adductor or inner thigh muscle.

Running is an excellent form of exercise that provides numerous health benefits. However, it's essential to take precautions to prevent injury and ensure a safe and enjoyable running experience. Proper footwear, warm-up and cool-down, strength training, proper technique, and gradual progression are all essential to injury prevention in running. If you do get injured, come in and see us at Surrey Physio. If you are not sure, call us for advice or guidance. By prioritising injury prevention, you can enjoy the many benefits of running while maintaining overall health and well-being.

(Therapists reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).