Tips to start running and prevent injury

Running is a great way to stay physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. With gym closures this year many people have taken up running as a way to get some fresh air after long hours working from home, but it is important to safely integrate this activity into your routine to prevent injury.

Gradual progression is key!

Your body needs to learn adapt to any new kind of activity. This means you should slowly build up your running mileage to allow your tissues to accommodate to the demand that is being placed on them. Rather than trying to run as far as you can and achieve your “personal best” on every run, try using the 10% rule. This rule is used to guide training programs – indicating that increases in tissue demand should not exceed (roughly) 10% per week. Slowly building up the demand you are putting on your tissues can help you avoid an overuse injury.

Your recovery/rest days are important

Recovery and rest days may look different for everyone depending on your fitness level. It may be a day of total rest, a shorter/slower run, or a day where you substitute your run for a workout. If you feel like you do need a day of total rest, consider incorporating mobility work or foam rolling during the time when you would normally take your run.

Choose the right shoe to run in

The perfect running shoe will be different for everyone depending on their body type, biomechanical factors, and injury history. Shoes that are on the more minimalist end of the spectrum (lighter, less cushioning) may be more beneficial for experienced runners who are trying to improve their performance but may not be the right shoe for everyone. Changing your running shoes too frequently without adjusting your mileage to allow your tissues to adapt could also make you more prone to injury. The only “perfect” running shoe is the shoe that you feel most comfortable running in.

And don’t forget to STRETCH!!

Learn what stretches you should be doing for your warmup and cool downs- the traditional stretches may not necessarily be what your body needs. Think about incorporating a foam roller for added release!

Unsure if you are ready to start running?

You may want to consider seeing a physiotherapist who can conduct a full body assessment to ensure your body is optimized to meet your running goals. A physiotherapist can assess your alignment, mobility, control, and strength to provide recommendations on how you can safely introduce running into your routine. A physiotherapist can be your ‘coach’ so you can safely engage in this activity and take a proactive role in injury prevention.

Blog Author: CAROLYN KIERULF-MONAGHAN, BSC, MSCPT

Carolyn is a Physiotherapy Resident who graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters in Physical Therapy (2020) and completed her Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Kinesiology at Queen’s University (2018).