Four Common Running Mistakes

With the fall season comes a new wave of races to train for, and new ambitions to get back into a good running regimen. This year has been especially different due to COVID-19. People have either been creative with home workouts or have stopped working out altogether due to gym closures and protocols. Regardless of the distance of the race you plan to train for, it is more important than ever to train smart and help prevent common running injuries that could leave you sidelined from your goals. At Hulst Jepsen, we treat a large population of runners, and see common running mistakes that lead to injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, IT band syndrome, stress fractures, and more.

1) Too much running, too soon: More is not necessarily better with running. Many people make the mistake of increasing mileage too quickly, and signing up for multiple races in a short timeframe. Your muscles, joints, and ligaments need time to adjust to the repetitive loading performed while running. Without adequate rest, overuse injuries start to appear. It is recommended to increase mileage 10% every week, especially if you are a beginner. This allows runners to slowly and steadily build up their proficiency over time. Make sure you always listen to your body. If increasing mileage doesn’t feel right, it is best to stay at the same mileage or rest until you are pain free.

2) Improper footwear: Wearing the wrong size shoe or worn out shoes will lead to injury fairly rapidly. If your shoes are too small, you risk jammed, blackened, or lost toe nails, painful foot joints, and blisters. Wearing shoes that are too big, will cause the heel to slip and may lead to blistering and possible injury to ankles or knees due to instability. When shoes have been worn for too long, the arches wear down, the toe and heel padding lose cushion, and your feet lack support which ultimately effects your spine and everything down the chain. It is recommended to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles depending on the type of shoe and runners frame. As a physical therapist, I highly suggest going to a specialty store such as Gazelle Sports to get fitted for a proper running shoe based on your foot type, running style, and type of race you are training for – you won’t regret it!

3) Not cross training: Many runners lead busy lives, and try to follow a strict and time-consuming training schedule in hopes to meet race day goals. Unfortunately, doing other forms of exercise such as strength training, yoga, swimming, biking, etc. get left out. You need to mix up your workout routine to ensure that you’re not neglecting any muscles. Running is repetitive in the forward direction, and can lead to muscle imbalances laterally. It is important to keep your hips, glutes, and abdominal muscles strong. Many injuries of the foot, ankle, and knee can be due to weakness in the core and hips, causing an inability of the body to absorb the impact caused by running. Try to add in some type of cross-training 2-3 days per week. You will find it will make you stronger and faster for race day!

4) Poor running form: Running with incorrect form places excess stress on our joints and can contribute to poor running economy. Over striding, landing your foot out in front of one’s center of mass, causes more force to be absorbed into your leg. The same can be said for landing too heavily onto your toes. Landing more mid-foot below your body’s center of mass allows each leg to absorb the impact of running properly, and take shorter and quicker steps. A low cadence is another common mistake a runner may make. Cadence is the number of steps one takes per minute. The general guideline is approximately 180 steps per minute, but if you are not close to that number, we generally recommend bumping up your cadence by 5-10%.

If you have concerns about your running form, Hulst Jepsen offers video gait analysis, where we break down your running form and give input on what you need to work on to improve your overall running health. This can be done at any of 16 location or offered times at Gazelle Sports. If you feel you may have an overuse injury, don’t hesitate to come see us! To schedule an appointment or free consultation at your local Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy clinic, give your nearest clinic a call or email us at receptionist@hyphysicaltherapy.com. We will be in touch with you as soon as possible to help you get closer to your race day goals!

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Jessica Buikema, DPT