10 Ways to Avoid Running Injuries

Are you after a runner's high, a cardio tune-up or calorie burn? Whatever your motivation, early summer is an Joan Pagano Runningideal season for running outside when you can breathe in fresh air, soak up Vitamin D from the sun, and enjoy green space. 

As millions of people take to city parks, country trails and high school tracks running injuries abound.  Not surprisingly, knee related injuries account for 25-50% of all lower extremity injuries (as reported in IDEA Fitness Journal, June 2014).  The foot, ankle, lower leg, hip and low back are also vulnerable. 

To keep you in the running, you must take steps to avoid injury from the most common causes.

  1. Do not increase your weekly mileage rapidly. Make gradual changes.
  2. After a lay-off, take your time returning to your normal mileage.
  3. Avoid continuous high mileage. Risk increases meaningfully at 40 or more miles/week. 
  4. Intersperse some low-impact cross training like cycling and swimming. Running 12 months without a break from training increases risk of injury.
  5. Alternate hard training days with lighter workouts.
  6. Steer clear of an abrupt change in running surface (grass, woodland trails, cinders, synthetic track, treadmill, concrete, etc.).
  7. Avoid running on uneven surfaces. Most grassland, for example, is uneven and can cause problems for runners with unstable ankles. At the beach, the tilt of sand at waters edge puts uneven stresses on the body.
  8. Change your running shoes every 350-550 miles, depending on your running style, body weight and surface.Inadequate or worn-out footwear lacks stability and shock absorption.
  9. If you have a history of previous injuries, learn to recognize the onset of the injury and control it. Novice runners have higher rates of injury than seasoned runners because of this.
  10. Stay away from busy streets (for obvious reasons!)

For other blog posts about running, please see