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Injury Prevention Tips - From an Injured Distance Runner



I've been injured pretty much my entire high school career. Mainly because of shin splints, but my IT band hasn't been fabulous either.


As I've been fighting these injuries, I've learned a few tips that might have prevented being injured in the first place. Some of these are geared towards runners, but no matter what, take care of your body!


1. Stretch


I know, I know. No one likes stretching. But trust me when I tell you that it is so important. Those aches and pains you have can usually be resolved by simply stretching really well. And then that prevents a whole host of other injuries. Stretch well, and I guarantee there will be so many benefits.


Another great way to get the benefits of stretching is to do some yoga. Yoga encourages flow and gentle movement in your body, which can help you loosen up and relieve some pain as well.


2. Ice


Icing is so good for your body! This is an easy way to stay injury free (hopefully!) and help your body recover. When you ice your legs, not only does it relieve aches and pains, it also reduces swelling and promotes healing.


Tip: only ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. If you do ice for too long, then you'll get an ice burn - and trust me, that's no fun! To be on the safe side, put a washcloth/small towel between your legs and the ice.


3. Be aware of your training and train safely.


If you aren't training safely, then the chances that you'll get injured are way higher. There's a lot of things about your training that you need to be aware of, such as:

  • Weather: If it's too hot and you aren't properly hydrated, then you could get sick and your body will overheat. If it's too cold and you aren't properly dressed, then you could be at risk for frostbite. Be aware of the weather.

  • Increasing your training too much too fast: When you increase your training too fast, it leads to more injuries, soreness, and pain. Take it slowly, and work your way up to the harder/longer runs instead of jumping right in. Also, don't feel pressure to train at the level or pace as anyone else. Yes, push yourself, but some people might be faster than you, and that's okay. If you aren't training at your level (or increasing your training at your own level), then you'll hurt yourself.

  • Rest/easy days: Your body needs rest! If you are constantly pushing your body and training really hard, then you are going to get worn out and injured very quickly. Easy runs are so important to become a better runner (or athlete!) so don't skip them! And don't feel bad about taking a day off; in fact, you might just come back stronger.

4. Just get the nice shoes.


It was really hard for me to imagine paying $130 for running shoes, but it was so necessary. If you get cheap shoes, they aren't supporting or aligning your feet as much as they need to be. Without the right support or alignment, that's just inviting injuries in. My lack of quality shoes definitely contributed to my shin splints, so I would absolutely suggest getting some nice shoes. It will pay off in the long run (literally).


I personally love my Brooks running shoes, and a lot of my teammates wear them, but get the shoes that fit your feet properly.


5. Listen to your body.


If you feel pain, stop. There is no shame in stopping to take care of your body and prevent injuries. If you keep running through a potential injury, then it will only keep getting worse. And then, if you do get injured, your entire season is set back. 99% of the time injuries don't go away on their own, so listen to your body and be aware of how you feel.


If you are unsure if you are injured or not, visit your doctor or talk to your coach. They will be able to give you a diagnosis and advise you on how to move forward.


 

No matter what kind of athlete you are or however you like to exercise, take the time to take care of your body. Listen to how you are feeling and prevent those injuries! Have you ever been injured? What are your tips for preventing injuries?

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I’m so proud of you Ellie!!! This is so well put together and such a great way to receive inspiration

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