Running Injury Prevention Tips
1. Avoid Increasing Training Variable(s) > 10% (distance, pace, hills, speed)
2. Work on Your Technique
- High cadence 80-90 RPM
- Run Lightly
- Use good posture (lift sternum up, maintain a level pelvis, avoid rounding shoulders)
- Shorten your stride (foot should strike under you)
- Avoid hard heel strike
- Avoid excessive up/down movements (Run Smooth)
3. Strengthen 1-2x/wk
4. Stretch After you Run
5. Treat Acute Injuries with R.I.C.E.
- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
- Gentle/Pain-Free stretching 24 hours after injury
6. Running with an Injury:
- Use the Run:Walk technique
- Stretch frequently after runs
Prevention and Treatment of the Illiotibial Band
As your training distances increase, your risk of developing Iliotibial Band Syndrome increases. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (or IT Band Syndrome) is a condition that is commonly seen in runners. The chief symptom is pain on the lateral aspect of the knee joint (see anatomy below) and the onset is usually after the athlete increases their distance, starts hills, runs on a surface with significant camber (slanted) or a change in shoe wear.
Runners with excessive knee hyperextension, knee varus (bow-legged) or valgus (knocked-knees) are predisposed to IT Band Syndrome. This condition is also present in runners with hard heel strike patterns.
- Follow the prescribed training program from your coaches. Increasing distance or speed too quickly can lead to this problem.
- Stretching: make sure you are warmed up before stretching. When you start to experience IT band problems, take extra time to stretch after a run. See below for descriptions of the stretches.
- Strengthening: weak gluteals can promote compensatory patterns that cause IT band problems.
- Technique: try to avoid a long stride when you run, a standard cadence (the RPM for your legs) is 90 foot strike on one side per minute. This should shorten and soften your stride. Run “lightly”. Think quick, light steps to decrease the ground reaction forces to your lower extremities. Some runners benefit from video gait analysis to improve their running technique. Find a coach or PT that is trained in running analysis.
If you have symptoms that sound like an IT Band problem, I recommend backing off of your training by 25% and avoiding hills and any surface with camber (tilting of the pavement so one foot is higher than the other). Increase your stretching to 3x/day.
If the symptoms are severe, I recommend icing 15-20 minutes. Resting for 1-2 weeks and stretching. If you are getting close to your event, therapy can be helpful in speeding up the healing process utilizing manual techniques (see /treatment/services/astym/) and modalities, providing possible shoe modifications and customizing your stretching and strengthening program.
Click to Expand for Stretching Routines
Cross right leg on top of left thigh. Gently pull left knee toward chest until stretch is felt in buttock/hip of top leg. Rock hip bones forward. Put foot against wall for increased stretch. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat with left leg on top of right thigh.
Cross right leg over the other, then lean to right side until stretch is felt on left hip. Tuck hips under. Slightly bend back leg (left) until stretch is felt. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat by crossing left leg over right to stretch the right hip.
Kneeling on right knee, slowly squeeze and tuck buttocks under to rotate pelvis until a stretch is felt in the anterior hip. Lunge forward with left leg to increase intensity.
Pull right heel toward buttock until stretch is felt in front of thigh. Make sure to keep abdominals tight; do not arch low back and keep knees together. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
With right leg straight, tuck other foot near groin. Reach down until stretch is felt in back of thigh. Keep back straight. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
Place right foot on stool. Slowly lean forward at your hips, keeping back straight, until stretch is felt in back of thigh. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat with left leg.