Many people look forward to this time of year due to the high number of running and walking races across the Des Moines area, including the IMT Des Moines Marathon that was a few weeks ago. Running is a common form of exercise chosen by people that want to increase their fitness abilities. Programs like Couch to 5k have encouraged millions of Americans to get off the couch, lace up some running shoes, and hit the pavement toward better health.
However, running is also a very common source of sports related injury in this country. Injuries to the foot/ankle, knee, hip, and low back can often sideline a runner for weeks, while delaying them from reaching their fitness and weight loss goals. We have seen this far too often when taking care of runners with chronic injuries.
Many times, the problem isn’t the sport itself, but the specific technique used while running. Improper running form from poor running posture or repetitive heel striking are the most common culprits. Over the course of dozens of miles, heel striking can jar all of the joints of the lower extremity causing the spine to shift out of place. Of course, once the spine shifts out of place, then secondary conditions will inevitably result.
So how can you make running safe?
- Change your form. The 4 steps above are a good start, but for personalized instruction, go to a local running store like Fleet Feet Sports or Heartland Soles. These establishments often have great classes and resources on proper running form.
- Evaluate your footwear. If you’re wearing the wrong shoes, then you will continue to get injured. The local running stores noted above have experts ready to fit you for the right shoe for your specific foot.
- Get checked for any underlying structural shifts that may be causing weak running posture, altered gait, and reducing your body’s ability to heal and repair. It is hard to achieve proper form and be evaluated for proper footwear without first having a structurally sound foundation.
Don’t let injury slow you down from achieving your goals. Run safe!