Winter is finally over (we think!). Tis the season for weekend fun runs, charity 5Ks and Bend’s own Pole Pedal Paddle. As you dust off your running shoes and get out to hit the pavement or our local trails it’s important to avoid some common early season training mistakes that will keep you healthy and competitive this spring and summer.

This is an especially important message considering about 60 to 65 percent of all runners experience an injury during the average year.

Running injuries are common, especially early in the season when people are training and prepping for races by getting their bodies back into shape. Common injuries are: Plantar fasciitis (heel pain), Achilles tendinitis, knee pain, and IT band friction syndrome. Most often caused by doing too much too soon, and doing so lacking proper strength, flexibility or form.

To help keep runners feeling healthy and injury free read on to learn about five common running mistakes:

Running Mistake #1: Skipping Warmup & Cooldown

While workout windows can be tight and difficult to secure during a given week, don’t use time constraints as an excuse to avoid properly warming up and cooling down before and after a run. Some walking, light jogging, skipping, high knees and butt kicks prior to running increases heart rate and circulation, loosens up the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. For your cooldown, do some light walking, foam rolling and stretching to help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to stiffness and muscle cramps.

Running Mistake #2: Wearing the Wrong Shoes

How your feet strike the ground will affect muscles and joints throughout your body’s entire kinetic chain, from the feet and ankles, through the knees and hips, and up into your spine and torso.  If your shoes don’t fit properly, are worn out or not the right type for you, you’re going to feel it.  It’s important to not only wear a good, high-quality shoe, but also one that matches your foot type.

Running Mistake #3: Ignoring Your Body

Don’t subscribe to a “no pain, no gain” model when running. Sure, you’ll want to push your body hard, but if you feel pain or an unnatural level of discomfort or fatigue, stop, assess and seek treatment from a physical therapist or other medical professional if symptoms do not improve with rest or training variability.

Running Mistake #4: Focusing Too Much on Cardio

With running, cardio fitness is certainly important. But when it comes to both injury prevention and performance enhancement, flexibility and strength are equally as vital. Adding stretching and foam rolling to your exercise routine can increase tissue flexibility and counteract tightness from the body’s recovery phase.  Strength training in the core, upper body and hips is equally important to meet the demands of endurance training.

Running Mistake #5: Not Resting

It’s good to push yourself, but rest and recovery are essential in avoiding injury, burnout and plateauing before you’ve reached your fullest potential. So always work rest into your long-term training regimen. This doesn’t mean just kicking up your feet and relaxing for a day,  sometimes, ‘rest’ can simply mean mixing up your training so you’re not challenging your body the same way every day.

To learn more about proper training, including personalized assessments and the development of training regimens that can enhance your running performance and ensure optimal injury prevention, contact the physical therapy team at Alpine Physical Therapy!