Whether you’re a seasoned runner or new to the road, there’s always something new to learn. Physical therapists and athletic trainers are in the forefront of training safely and participating in physical activities such as running. If you want to improve your race time or simply prevent an injury, here are six running tips from OSR’s physical therapists and athletic trainers.
1. Be Prepared As Best You Can With Strengthening
It’s impossible to prevent injury 100% of the time, says athletic trainer Kyle McCuskey. However, you can try and be prepared as best as you can with strengthening. Furthermore, you can make sure that the biomechanics of the lower leg are working correctly. This means the right alignment and form is happening, and that the muscles are able to support correctly.
2. Listen To Your Body And Treat Your Pain
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, if your pain is enough to keep you from running you should get someone to look at it, says physical therapist Matt Gannott. It’s never too early to seek physical therapy or help for your pain. In fact, the earlier the better, he says: “It makes it so much easier to treat.”
3. Don’t Overload Yourself With Training
Abby Johnson has been a certified athletic trainer for five years. She’s seen multiple injuries – from head to toe. With years of experience, what is the number one piece of advice she has for runners and athletes in general?
“Educating yourself well and make sure you’re staying in shape and not overloading [or over training] yourself too much,” Abby says. “If you start to notice a lingering pain or a pain that intensifies to a good degree then seek help from a healthcare professional.”
Furthermore, it’s important to listen to your body and to take a break, slow down, decrease your intensity, or seek help if the pain lingers or even worsens.
4. Strengthen Your Stabilizing Muscles
To avoid injury and run your best, Jason Kopp suggests focusing on strengthening your stabilizing muscles. These muscles include the hips, which help stabilize the knee and ankle, says Kopp, who has been an athletic trainer for five years. If you do that, while focusing on form, alignment, and stride, you can continue running into your later years without breaking down, he said.
5. When Your Body Says Stop, Stop
Nate Tellers is the Director of Athletic Training Services for OSR Physical Therapy. His biggest piece of advice for avoiding injury is to stop when your body says stop.
“For example, if you have swelling your knee, it’s not a good idea participate in an activity. This is because the brain interprets that swelling as an injury and your brain will shut down your knee,” Tellers says. “And that’s why you’ll hear kids coming out and saying, ‘my knee just gave way out there.’ Well, something underlying was taking place and now your knee gave way and buckled and led to a larger injury.”
Being in tuned to your body is essential for injury prevention. In fact, Tellers added, “You should be able to differentiate soreness pain from a pain that could cause an injury. If you can do that, you can avoid injury.”
6. Go In With An Open Mindset
Whether you’re starting out on a training run or at the starting line of a race, it’s important to go into it with an open mindset, says Sarah Getty, who has been a physical therapist for over 8 years. Sarah Getty specializes in running and even hosts a free running clinic twice a year. The clinic offers runners an opportunity to learn more about injury prevention, strengthening and training techniques, running analysis, and the opportunity to run on the alter-G machine.
It’s essential to not start too fast and to pace yourself to avoid early burnout and injury. Then, when you’re done with your race or your training run, continue to hydrate well with lots and water. Getty also added to continue walking and do a proper cooldown to avoid the post-race or post-workout pain and muscle strain.
OSR Offers More Than Just Running Tips
OSR Physical Therapy does more than just offer running tips. From running analysis to injury rehabilitation, our physical therapists and athletic trainers can help you become a better runner. Contact one of our offices to set up a free consultation with one of our running specialists.