If you’ve been running for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced the struggle that comes with random aches and pains at least once. When those hot spots arise, it’s easy to second guess everything you know about your training. These running injuries are notorious for arising at the most inconvenient times, bringing your training to a crashing halt.
Luckily, there are some simple habits that will help prevent running injuries from occurring.
While some runners are more prone to injuries than others, establishing a few good habits can really help lower your chances from encountering the dreadful aches and pains.
There is nothing quite as frustrating as training hard each week, completing long runs and hard workouts, only to hear that you need to take a few weeks – or sometimes months – completely off.
Running injuries can cause a great deal of mental turmoil in addition to the physical pain. While many runners think they are running safely each week, they fail to make regular injury prevention a habit and too quickly realize that they should have.
These six habits for runners are easy to incorporate into your training, yet greatly increase your chances of staying healthy and injury free on the run.
If you’re hoping to avoid running injuries while shooting for some massive running goals, make sure to include these six simple habits into your weekly training.
6 Habits for Runners to Prevent Running Injuries
Stretch and foam roll.
Spending time recovering after each and every workout – no matter how easy – is a crucial habit of runners to remain injury free. Scheduling extra time to cool down and stretch at the end of a run can feel challenging when you’re already rushed to complete your daily miles.
However, making recovery a priority is crucial if you’d like to keep running for the long term. Even just five extra minutes spent stretching after completing a run can make a huge difference in your body’s recovery.
Activities such as stretching, foam rolling and yoga help avoid lactic acid buildup on your muscles. These activities help increase blood flow to your tired muscles, prevent adhesions from forming, and help keep your muscles loose so you can run pain free.
Try these 10 simple stretches after your next run to give those muscles a little extra love!
Strength train on a regular basis.
Regardless of your current fitness level, your body will never stay strong and healthy if you fail to make strength training a habit.
Incorporating simple strength training exercises on a regular basis helps keep your muscles strong and healthy to propel you on the run. When your mileage continues to increase, your muscles are continuously challenged. Without proper strength, this often leads to overuse injuries and pain on the run.
Set goals and create a plan.
Planning ahead to conquer various running goals is a key strategy of runners who remain injury free. Creating a plan forces you to think ahead and provides you with the opportunity to schedule in regular strength training, rest days, cross training and recovery activities.
Runners who fail to plan ahead often wind up short on time, barely able to fit in their schedule miles and forced to skip any strength training or stretching more often than not. Setting a running goal helps you align your plan with your purpose, motivates you to stay injury free during training, and helps you stay accountable along the way.
Try this method of running goal setting for motivation to plan ahead!
Complete easy running on a regular basis.
So many runners fall into the trap of wanting to see progress right now. It can feel frustrating to put in work on a daily basis and have to wait weeks, even months, to reap the results of your efforts. Many runners attempt to accelerate their progress by throwing in extra speed workouts, hard efforts and increase their mileage too quickly.
These tactics will usually lead to running pains, burnout and eventually leave you with forced time off due to an injury. Runners who incorporate easy runs in their training plan on a regular basis provide their bodies with the time it needs to adapt and recover from taxing workouts.
Easy running is an essential habit for runners who remain injury free – even those on an elite level.
Hydrate and refuel after each run.
Regardless of the number of miles you fit in each week, the effort you put forth on your runs and the time you spend planning to meet your goals – you progress will eventually plateau if you fail to refuel after each run.
Taking the time to hydrate and fuel properly is a crucial habit of runners who remain injury free. The harder your effort each week, the more muscle fibers need to rebuild themselves. Without proper nutrients, your muscles are unable to rebuild themselves and your strength will plateau.
Increasing efforts without fueling your body with quality nutrients can eventually cause many common running injuries. Take the time to create a fueling and hydration strategy for those long runs, and prioritize refueling at the end of every single run.
Check out these fueling tips for long runs to get started!
Take one complete rest day each week.
Overuse is one of the most common causes of running injuries. We all know how hard it can be to take time off when you’re finally making progress – the moment when you’ve finally found your groove and are loving each run – but rest is certainly necessary to continue this upward trend.
It won’t take long for a running injury to develop if you skip your rest days. Allowing your body one complete rest day each week is a key habit of those runners who prevent injury in the long term.
After so many miles each week, your body needs time to adapt, rebuild torn muscle fibers, and enjoy some mental and physical rest.
Unfortunately, there is no magical way to avoid running injuries for the rest of your life. Your body structure, weekly mileage, lifestyle and so much more all affect your chances of developing these troublesome aches and pains.
However, by incorporating these few simple habits for runners each week, you help your body remain strong, flexible and pain free on the run. Every runner should practice these habits during training.
Stay strong and prevent running injuries with just a few proactive minutes each week!