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5 Evidence based tips for runners to avoid injury

  |   Health   |   4 Comments

With the beginning of a new year come new goals, many which include starting a new exercise program or setting new goals in existing programs. Runners often set goals of running a certain mileage (ie marathon), or goals of a personal best time. Here I’ve compiled some tips for runners to avoid injury when starting a new running program.

  1. Plan well in advance to allow for adequate training time. Preparing for a run requires time. Repeated studies have found that rapid increases in running distance, speed, the introduction of hills, etc will increase your risk of injury.1,2

One can follow the 10% rule when increasing training volume to minimize one’s risk of the following injuries: patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee), iliotibial band syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee), greater trochanteric bursitis, and injury to the gluteus medius or tensor fascia latae 3 How long you need to train depends on the race and your fitness level.

2. Include strength training.

There is no evidence to suggest that concurrent strength training impedes running ability. Results of a 2017 study show that runners who also do strength training improve their efficiency of running, strength and speed.4,5 Strengthening may also help prevent injuries.

3. Include slow runs in your training.

Total training time spent at low intensities is associated with improved performance.6

Elite runners typically spend about 80% of their training below their ventilatory threshold – that’s below 77-79% of their maximum heart rate. You can calculate your ventilatory threshold using the following formula:  V=(220 – age)x 0.77 in beats per minute. Its also at about the point where you can run and still have a conversation.

4. Don’t make any drastic changes in your footwear.

If you are used to running with a very foamy, supportive shoe, don’t suddenly switch to a minimalist shoe. Make the transition very gradual to avoid injury.7

5. Address any soreness early rather than push on.

The biggest source of injury in running is due to overloading, or a failure to manage a load. Your physiotherapist will assist you with strengthening and load management techniques.

If you enjoyed these tips for runners you may enjoy another article where you may also ask “should I run with osteoarthritis?” or “Does running increase my risk of osteoarthritis?”


  1. Rasmussen, C. H., Nielsen, R. O., Juul, M. S., & Rasmussen, S. (2013). Weekly running volume and risk of running‐related injuries among marathon runners. International journal of sports physical therapy, 8(2), 111
  2. Nielsen, R. O., Buist, I., Sørensen, H., Lind, M., & Rasmussen, S. (2012). Training errors and running related injuries: a systematic review. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(1), 58.
  3. Nielsen, R. Ø., Parner, E. T., Nohr, E. A., Sørensen, H., Lind, M., & Rasmussen, S. (2014). Excessive progression in weekly running distance and risk of running-related injuries: an association which varies according to type of injury. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 44(10), 739-747.
  4. Beattie, K, Carson, BP, Lyons, M, Rossiter, A, and Kenny, IC (2017). The effect of strength training on performance indicators in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res 31(1): 9–23.
  5. Blagrove, R.C., Howatson, G. & Hayes, P.R. (2017). Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Med. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0835-7
  6. Esteve-Lanao, J, Earnest AF, Foster CP, C., Lucia A. (2005). How do endurance runners actually train? Relationship with competition performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37(3), 496-504.
  7. Fuller, J. T., Thewlis, D., Tsiros, M. D., Brown, N. A., & Buckley, J. D. (2017). Six-week transition to minimalist shoes improves running economy and time-trial performance. tips for runners Journal of science and medicine in sport, 20(12), 1117-1122

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