Running: Conditioning and Training for Injury Prevention

By: Laura Wenger, PT, DPT

This time of year, the weather is just about right for running–not so hot that you feel you might faint on a steep uphill, and not so chilly that you need to don multiple layers that will inevitably be peeled off as you warm up. But, don’t take the ideal weather for granted. You still need to maintain proper conditioning and training techniques to ensure safety.

Whether you’re hitting the trails, the pavement or are already on a consistent training program, be sure to consider the amount of miles that you’re running and take care to ensure that your mileage increases are safe. You may have heard of the “10% rule”, which suggests that you do not want to exceed more than a 10 percent mileage increase per week in order to prevent injuries.1 At Rakita Tomsic, we see knee and hip complaints often. Continue reading for some helpful information on why it is important to maintain a proper increase in running mileage.

A recent study in the Journal of Orthopaedics & Sports Physical Therapy sought to discern if there is a relationship between an elevation in injury risk and a sudden increase in weekly running mileage. The researchers also focused on specific activities, and how they influenced the rate of injury.2 Long-distance running and the injuries associated with it including patellofemoral pain, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), gluteus medius injury, greater trochanteric bursitis, tensor fascia latae injury, and patellar tendinopathy were also focus areas.

The study looked at 873 novice runners who tracked their self-guided runs over the course of year using a GPS system.2 Over that year, 202 of the runners had an injury involving their legs or back that was caused by running, leading to a restriction in the distance they were able to run for at least a week.2 After the types of injuries were divided into groups and the numbers were analyzed, the statistics showed that runners who progressed their weekly running distance by over 30 percent had increased vulnerability of a distance-related injury versus those who only increased their weekly running distance by less than 10 percent.2 Of note, this relationship did not exist for pace-related injuries, traumatic injuries, and other overuse injuries.

In summary, if you are embarking on a running schedule to train for a race or just to get a good workout while enjoying this season’s amazing weather, you will want to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 30 percent per week in order to decrease your risk of a distance-related injury.2 Just to be safe, it is prudent to refrain from increasing your weekly running distance by more than 10 percent.2 There are other effects of overtraining that you may experience by increasing too much and too fast, such as increased fatigue and pace associated with physiological changes.

For more information on this study, please visit the website here. If you have any other questions, or would like to speak to a physical therapist about what you can do to minimize your risks or to treat a running-related injury, please give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

1. Johnston CA, Taunton JE, Lloyd-Smith DR, McKenzie DC. Preventing running injuries. Practical approach for family doctors. Can Fam Physician. 2003;49:1101-1109

2. Nielsen RO, Parner ET, Nohr EA, Sorensen H, Lind M, Rasmussen S. Excessive progression in weekly running distance and risk of running-related injuries: An association which varies according to type of injury. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2014;44(10):739-747.