girl running photo

If there’s one thing that many runners have in common, unfortunately, it’s that they’ve probably sustained running injuries. In all, 56 percent of recreational runners and 90 percent of marathon runners have been injured.

I love to run. It’s such an efficient and inexpensive means of clearing your mind and keeping your body fit. But as I get older, I feel it more. The impact matters. Here’s how to keep running long into old age by reducing running injuries.

1. Tweak your form.

Research shows that one of the most effective means of reducing running injuries is by adjusting your stride. Pretend like you’re running on eggshells, taking lighter steps.

2. Shorten your stride.

Runners with longer strides tend to hit the ground with too much impact, which causes running injuries like plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Shorten your stride by increasing the steps taken with your left foot every minute. Try increasing your steps by 10 percent. For example, if your left foot normally lands 75 times per minute, try and increase that number to 82-83 steps per minute. At first it may feel awkward, but once you get used to it, it will protect you from injury.

3. Select the right shoe.

Choose a comfortable, snug-fitting shoe. Based on your gait and foot, the best running shoe for you may vary. It’s best to go to a running store with experts to help you choose the right shoe based on the running gait tests and foot measurements that they do in the store. Insoles may also provide some additional support to reduce impact.

4. Know your limits.

Increase your pace and mileage gradually. Don’t go from zero to 60 immediately. A good mark is to increase mileage and pace by 10 percent per week because if you increase too much at once then you’ll end up injured.

5. Run on a level surface.

If you’re prone to injuries, it may be best to run on a level surface where you have more control over your impact. Also, consider running on grass or dirt in a field rather than running on pavement.

6. Listen to your body.

Listening to your body prevents injuries from getting worse once they arise. Runners can be stubborn, ignoring injuries until they become chronic. Be mindful of how your body feels when you’re running and if there are adjustments that could be made to improve your experience.

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Image: Ernst Moeksis