Service Line: General
Thought Leader: Michael R. Nicoletti, MD
Research shows that up to 80 percent of runners will be injured at one time during a 12 month period. But that doesn’t mean runners have to quit their favorite activity to avoid getting hurt. With the proper plan, they can stay in that safe 20 percent.
Here’s how to prevent injury and maximize performance:
Set reasonable goals. Determine why you run (e.g., fitness, recreation, training, competition), then develop or find a plan that is compatible with your goal and current level of fitness. Whether you run for distance or time, most running plans recommend increasing by no more than 10 percent per week to avoid injury.
Warm up and stretch. Warming up is crucial to ensuring your legs are ready for the demands of running. Always spend at least five to 10 minutes warming up. Dynamic stretches—stretching in motion—are typically recommended over static stretches, especially during warm up. If you prefer to hold on to static stretches—the deep stretch and hold without movement—reserve them for the end of your run.
Wear the right shoes. Knowing what type of running gait you have and wearing proper running shoes are crucial for avoiding injuries. Orthotic shoe inserts are equally as important, especially for people with flat feet or high arches, as well as a wide variety of foot problems. Everyone’s feet are different; if you’re unsure of what kind of shoe you should be wearing, visit a local running shop to have your gait assessed.
Stick to safe weather conditions. Avoid running outside if temperatures are over 90 degrees, humidity levels are high, or temperatures are exceptionally cold or freezing. It’s especially a good idea to stick to the treadmill if the roads outside are slippery or icy.
Change it up. Once you’ve established consistency, try varying your run workouts. There are many different types of running workouts such as tempo, interval, fartlek, and hill repeats. These not only can make running more fun and interesting but will improve running efficiency, endurance, power, speed, and mental toughness.
Mix in cross training to supplement your running. Try cycling or swimming as alternatives to running, and incorporate strength training as part of your weekly routine – this will help you build strength and flexibility, prevent injury and recover faster. Core strengthening along with Hip abduction – glute strengthening, are two key components to being a successful runner.
Don’t underestimate the value of rest. Without appropriate rest you can easily find yourself injured or over-trained. Exercise results in microscopic tissue breakdown, rest allows your body to recover and improve from one training session to the next. Planning scheduled rest days at least once or twice per week can increase gains and decrease the chances of downtime due to injury.
An expert in orthopaedics, Michael R. Nicoletti MD, specializes in physical medicine, rehabilitation and sports medicine. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicoletti, at Lenox Health Greenwich Village, please call 646-665-6784.