While I can’t say that I’m diligent about practicing good injury prevention, I think that there are many ways to help prevent running injuries which are well documented.
While it may be obvious, it’s not a great idea to roll out of bed and start running full speed. Warming up for a run may include dynamic stretching, walking, or just starting slow. After a short walk, I have gotten used to doing are about 20 yards of high knees and butt-kicks. These help me warm up and also aid in developing faster turnover.
Don’t Do Too Much
First, don’t overdo it. Many running injuries happen do to pushing too hard. This goes back to finding the balance between training hard and not training enough. Training should make you sore and include some aches and pains, but proper and sufficient recovery is necessary in order to make gains.
Most running plans call for a hard workout followed by one or two days of easy workouts. If you are running for these easy workouts, make sure it is a very light “recovery” run. If you don’t recover enough, your body won’t heal and you will either not progress or get an injury.
The other type of recovery workout may be better for injury prevention: cross training. Cross training allows you to burn calories and get the blood pumping, but it works different muscles than running.
Some examples of good cross training activities include swimming, cycling, and rowing. All of these activities are low impact and will allow healing from running. Additionally, these activities aid injury prevention by strengthening different muscle groups. Other activities like Yoga or weight lifting can potentially be considered cross training, but they are not aerobic and may not aid quite as much for running.
I’ve found that even some high impact activities may help with injury prevention. For example, I often play basketball a couple times per week on the days I’m not running. While it’s often full court, it’s not always very intense, but I feel like it strengthens my legs in different ways since there is much more lateral movement, sprinting, jumping, and stopping than there is during running.
Stretching and Strengthening Drills
Static stretching before running has been shown to be unhelpful with injury prevention and may actually decrease performance. However, stretching after running may improve flexibility and aid with injury prevention. Many runners take a few minutes after a workout to stretch.
Similarly, certain activities such as lunges and balancing can strengthen muscles and aid in speed and strength.
Not all injuries can or will be prevented, but using a varied approach at running injury prevention can yield valuable dividends over the long term. Sometimes freak injuries occur, but minimizing the probability of injuries is valuable to anyone who doesn’t want to be sitting on the sidelines.