Running is a tough sport.
It’s especially hard on the knees and feet, and if any of those joints are injured runners risk re-injury to those weakened areas.
Prevention is key. Experts say that strength training and smart workout techniques are the best ways to avoid injury in the first place. If you do get hurt, these practices will help you strengthen the injured area and will go a long way toward avoiding future injuries.
Below are 19 expert sources runners can turn to for advice, training tips and rehab recommendations. Stay strong and bookmark at will.
Golden – Run Better, Twitter: @RunGolden1
Creator and founder of Altra Footwear, Golden Harper grew up running and working in his family’s speciality running store. He not only studied running technique and injuries in college, but came back from a life-altering snowboarding accident in 2012 to compete in and win marathons.
He’s got advice on all sorts of injuries that runners tend to have, but says if you start out with the right shoe, you’ll be … well, a step ahead. As he writes on the Altra blog,
“The ideal running shoe would contain ‘no drop’ from the heel down to the forefoot, ‘not contain…stability components,” he writes on the Altra blog. That shoe also would have “a wide toe box.”
He adds that many common foot problems are caused by one if not both of the following:
- “a heavy, elevated heel that teaches poor, high impact technique”
- “the traditional tapered toe box which ultimately inhibits impact absorption”
Harper adds that new runners should look for shoes with just enough cushioning to be comfortable, and those with weak feet use lightweight arch supports.
The Science of Running, Twitter: @stevemagness
Running coach Steve Magness is the author of the book The Science of Running. He also has a blog by the same name, which he says serves as an “in-depth look at training, coaching, Sport Science, and anything else that relates to enhancing endurance performance.”
If you’re interested in the science behind the way your body moves — such as what the difference is between active running form and passive running form — you’ll be happy here.
Strength Running, Twitter: @JasonFitz1
Long-distance runner, USATF-certified coach and 2:39 marathoner Jason Fitzgerald founded Strength Running in 2010 after developing a severe ITB injury. He shares what he’s learned over the years to help runners avoid the mistakes that nearly sidelined his own running career.
He’s got an injury prevention guide where he talks about training smarter and getting stronger to avoid injuries in the first place. His site also offers articles on how to treat overuse injuries including shin splints and ITBS.
One other important tip from Fitzgerald: “Make sure you have a few pairs of running shoes that you can alternate to make increasing mileage easier on your legs.”
Jeff Galloway, Facebook: Jeff Galloway
Inventor of the Run-Walk-Run training method, U.S. Olympian Jeff Galloway says his philosophy has “opened up the possibility of completing a marathon or half marathon to almost everyone.”
The Runner’s World columnist and author of some 19 books on running, walking and fat-burning, who just turned 70, also speaks at more than 200 running and fitness sessions annually.
Claiming not “a single overuse injury for over 30 years,” Galloway’s five injury prevention strategies for new runners includes being careful with speed training (warm up very well; do some light accelerations; walk between repetitions; stay smooth; don’t strain, especially at the end of the workout).
Galloway is also a fan of aqua jogging, a low-impact workout he says will boost your fitness level and improve your running form.
Running Writings, Twitter: @JDruns
A running coach and the author of Modern Training and Physiology for Middle and Long-Distance Runners, John Davis has been running for nearly half his life. He got interested in injury prevention and treatment while in college, when a stress fracture and string of infections scuttled most of his senior year outdoor track competitions.
Immersing himself in scientific research on physiology and biomechanics, Davis attempts to answer questions about why runners get injured and how training can improve fitness.
One article he’s written appears on RunnersConnect and examines the causes of runner’s knee as well as the treatments. If you’re having trouble with your knees, you may want to download the PDF (free in exchange for your email address), which describes and illustrates 10 prevention and rehab exercises for runner’s knee issues.
Team Doctors Blog, Facebook: Team Doctors Treatment Center
Dr. James Stoxen, D.C., the owner of Team Doctors, combines chiropractic care, therapy, active rehabilitation and strength training to prepare athletes for competitions.
In his article “Cracking Achy Knee Pain,” Dr. Stoxen says the key element to this injury, known to runners as runner’s knee, is over pronation, which means you have to look at the feet and the person’s gait.
One treatment is counter support in the shoe. Another is deep tissue massage to release tension, and Dr. Stoxen has video tutorials in the body of the article that demonstrate self-help massage from hip to feet.
Runblogger, Twitter: @Runblogger
Anatomy professor turned running coach, gait analyst and exercise physiologist Pete Larson founded the site Runblogger. On it, you’ll see that Larson also consults with shoe companies on product testing and does some footwear development work.
All of this means that in addition to in-depth shoe reviews, you’ll find articles such as the one that examines whether a moderately cushioned shoe encourages barefoot-like biomechanics (when comparing the Nike Pegasus with the Nike Free 3.0 in this case).
In an interview, Larson mused about why runners get injured:
“The No. 1 reason why runners get injured is they either run too much or too hard for their current level of fitness. How much is too much? That will depend on the person. Some people can seemingly run forever and never get seriously hurt, whereas others seem to tweak something every time they step out the door. The key is to get to know your limits, and allow time for rest and recovery. Pushing too hard is the best way to get yourself into trouble.”
Back2Back, Twitter: @Back2backPT
Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, CEO of Back2Back Physical Therapy and Chief of Physical Therapy at Harvard University, continually stresses the importance of stretching and foam rolling — not just before or after exercising, but as part of your daily routine.
You don’t need to read in-depth treatises with Dr. Wilmarth. Look at her Twitter feed; it’s filled with brief, actionable advice such as this May 26 tweet:
— Dr Mary Ann Wilmarth (@Back2backPT) May 26, 2015
The blog and affiliated forum are the places to get answers from William Roberts, M.D., who served as Medical Director for the Twin Cities Marathon.
The Q&A is extensive. The list of things covered includes:
- coming back after surgery,
- how to recover quickly after a rainy run,
- the causes of lower leg pain,
- and whether flat-footed runners are prone to injury.
Shut Up and Run, Twitter: @ShutUpRun
Beth Risdon started running in her 40s, and now she’s a two-time Ironman. She’s also crude (her own word), and she’s candid about scatological matters, which are actually of great importance to runners.
Basically, bring a sense of humor with you to her blog.
Risdon also discusses foot problems that runners face, which include black or missing toenails, callouses, blisters and bunions. If you choose to have your toenails removed, which is a practice among some ultramarathoners, Risdon counsels thusly: “Don’t forget to paint the stubs.”
Running Physio, Twitter: @tomgoom
Tom Goom, a runner and physiotherapist in the UK, gives advice and treatment recommendations on injury prevention. Some articles are quite in-depth, such as his multi-part piece on shin pain, which is such a complex issue (with four broad categories of bony, muscular, vascular and neural pain).
He’s also got a “geek off” article examining the effectiveness of the oft-maligned sidelying exercises for glutes. “A combination of both functional weight bearing and less functional (sidelying) exercises is most likely to be effective in glutes rehab,” he concludes.
An Athlete’s Body, Twitter: @ReboundPhysio
A certified coach and author of Anatomy for Runners, physical therapist Jay Dicharry has competed in running events as well as swimming and cycling events, both locally and nationally. He’s coached national medalists, lectures on the care of endurance athletes, and is part of the PT team and director at REP Lab.
Runner Dude, Twitter: @RunnerDude_
Thad McLaurin, author of Full-Body Fitness for Runners, is a certified running and fitness coach. Owner of Runner Dude’s Fitness in Greensboro, NC, his blog has a section dedicated to injury prevention, addressing issues such as shin splints, knee pain, sciatica and piriformis syndrome, blackened toenails, hamstring cramps, and more.
Little Green Running Shoes, Twitter: @LittleGreenRS
Jenna is an AFAA-certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor who says running is one of her favorites ways to exercise. She’s written a post about injury prevention for runners and says “as a runner, yoga has made all the difference.”
Jenna also notes that dietary supplements are important, and a lack of them can in fact lead to injury. She says that a micro-fracture in her foot was “due to an iron and omega-3 deficit.”
RunKeeper Blog, Facebook: RunKeeper
RunKeeper is an app that tracks your run, and the company blog features tips and motivational stories by runners of every fitness level.
Search for the word “injury,” and you’ll come up with lots of posts, many from other athletes about overcoming injuries. Some of the tips seem almost too simple (don’t tie your shoes too tight), but when you read the underlying reason, it makes sense:
“Two fingers should fit under the tongue of your trainer. If it’s too tight; there’s a good chance you’re going to give yourself the dreaded shin splints!”
The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy is for physical therapists and others in healthcare, but if you want scientifically rigorous data on an injury, this is a great place to do some reading.
For instance, there’s an article that was published in 2014 called “Management and Prevention of Bone Stress Injuries in Long-Distance Runners.”
Basically, the article says that bone stress injuries (BSI) are a problem for long-distance runners because of their frequency and “tendency to recur.” A BSI starts with pain from repetitive loading and can progress to become a complete bone fracture.
Redesigning the runner’s training program (increasing muscle strength in the area of the BSI) and altering the athlete’s stride (running softer or higher) are mentioned as methods that can help deter future occurrences of BSI or prevent them from happening in the first place.
By using the site search tool, you can look for a specific injury, or just type in “prevent runners injury.” One article that came up with the more general query is a study of the usefulness of compression stockings. Those authors found that compression stockings neither prevent muscle damage nor improve running pace.
Strength Ambassadors Blog, Twitter: @Gubernatrix
While this is a strength training site for a gym in London, the information about strength training and injury prevention for runners makes it a great resource.
Scroll to about halfway through the article, and you’ll find four videos videos for glute activation exercises. If you like those, you may want to sign up for free video training guides offered on the homepage.
This site is a community for running enthusiasts with posts by fellow runners, running coaches and personal trainers, all writing about what they love and know best.
There are plenty of helpful articles here, including:
- the use of myofascial release to get rid of plantar fasciitis,
- a podiatrist’s take on common running-related foot problems and recommendations,
- and yoga for runners (with video).
Run Better Now!, Twitter: @BiohackRunning
Fitness professional Nick Ortego is a proponent of biohacking, which he defines as “an approach to self-improvement utilizing a systems-thinking approach to our own biology.”
For example, he says you can measure your heart rate variability, so you know when you’ve rested enough. This knowledge not only optimizes training, but also reduces injury.
He’s also got a guide to foam rolling for runners. The point of foam rolling, which is a method of self-myofascial release, is to let you run “pain-free, faster and with less effort.”