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How to Avoid Running Injuries Preparing for Sound to Narrows

Posted on Mar. 2, 2012 ( comments)

Since Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon in 1972 and inspired millions of Americans to run, we have learned a lot about its benefits and pitfalls.

Running is a great sport for fitness. If you train vigorously, you can go out and run for 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week and be in compliance with the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for aerobic exercise. There are definitely disease prevention advantages as well (i.e diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease). As a runner myself, I find it enjoyable and a great way to relieve stress; you kind of get hooked. One of its pitfalls is the high rate of injuries, and evidence suggests that 40 to 50 percent of runners are injured every year. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent injuries.

Avoid Training Errors

One of the most common reasons for running injury is too much, too fast. Do not increase your total volume or intensity of running by more than 10 percent from one week to the next. If you have taken a long break from running, do not jump right back in where you left off. Just because you were able to handle it then does not mean you can handle it now.

Running Shoes

Replace your shoes regularly. The conventional wisdom is to replace your shoes ever 300 to400 miles. If you are hard on shoes, you may fall on the lower end of spectrum; if you are not, they may last a little longer. Minimalist shoes are the latest in running wear, but there still is not a lot of medical evidence or experience that this is the right thing. It is, however, an intriguing concept. If you really want to switch to minimalist shoes, wait until after your next big race, and do it very slowly. A quick change over to minimalist shoes or barefoot running is a recipe for disaster and may not be the best choice for all runners.

Improving Strength

One of the best things runners can do to prevent injuries is improve hip and core strength. Most runners do not really enjoy adding this to their regimen, but it can be quite helpful. For runners, it is not about adding bulk; it is more a process of toning and teaching the muscles to fire at the right time. Two of the most common injuries: IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka runner’s knee) are treated primarily by addressing hip strength. I recommend hip/core training to all the runners that I see.

Finally, make sure you are having fun. Train with other runners, do some trail runs, take some days off, or cross train. If you are always doing the same thing, it can get stale.

Dr. Joshua Purses, D.O., practices primary care sports medicine at MultiCare Health System and is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. In his spare time, Dr. Purses enjoys running, travel and spending time with family.

Click on these links to register for the Tacoma Marathon or Sound to Narrows.

About The Author

Dr. Joshua Purses

Joshua Purses, DO, is a MultiCare orthopedics and sports medicine specialist who treats both children and adults. He has offices in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Olympia.

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