How to Prevent Common Running Injuries

November 28, 2015 Updated: November 29, 2015

Have you ever experienced shin splints? Runner’s knee? Tight hips? These common overuse injuries can affect performance, derail race training, and at worst, lead to more serious running injuries that require medical attention and complete rest.

Running is a high-impact activity that requires a well-rounded exercise program, recovery time, and planning in order to be enjoyable and sustainable. Follow these tips to keep running healthy and happy this fall.

Running is a high-impact activity that requires a well-rounded exercise program.


Glute Bridges With Resistance Band

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  • Lie on your back with your feet and knees shoulder-width apart, and place a resistance band around your legs just above your bent knees.
  • Lift your hips from the floor so that your torso is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Take three deep breaths, and lower your hips. That’s one repetition.

Do 10 repetitions.

Clamshells With Resistance Band

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  • Lie on your right side with your right arm cradling your head, and stack your legs on top of each other, knees slightly bent.
  • Wrap a resistance band around your legs just above your knees.
  • Keeping your feet together, lift your left knee away from your right knee. Then lower it slowly back down. That’s one repetition.

Do 20 repetitions on each side.

One-Legged Mini-Squats

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  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and shift your weight to your slightly bent right leg.
  • Slowly extend your left leg and gradually lower yourself into a small squat using your right leg. Then return to neutral.
  • Monitor the position of your right knee, keeping it in alignment with the second and third toe of the right foot. That’s one repetition.

Do 10 repetitions on each side.


Self-Myofascial Release



Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), also known as “foam-rolling,” can be done with a commercial roll or even an everyday object, such as a tennis ball, for certain muscles.

Never increase your running distance more than 10 percent per week.

You should target calves, inner and outer thighs, and glutes. Place your weight on the object at the appropriate muscle, and then slowly and continuously roll your weight over the object, focusing for 30 seconds on tight spots in the muscle.

Warrior I


  • Stand with your feet together. Then step your right foot forward with a bent knee.
  • Keep your left leg straight with a neutral knee, and pivot your left foot so that it is flat on the floor at a 45-degree angle away from your body.
  • Raise your arms overhead and gently “lean in” to the hip flexor stretch by pivoting your left hip forward.

Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Cross-Legged Stretch

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  • Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, feet and knees shoulder-width apart.
  • Cross your right leg over your left so that your right ankle is resting on your left knee.
  • Clasp your hands around your left shin, and tilt your left knee toward your chest, lifting your left foot from the ground.

Hold stretch for 30 seconds.


10 Percent Rule

You should never increase your running distance more than 10 percent per week. To calculate the increments at which you should increase, multiply your distance by 1.1 each week. Even though it can feel exhilarating to push yourself to new distances, especially in the beautiful fall temperatures, using math to plan your runs will help you reach your goals.

Shorten Your Stride

A shorter, faster stride protects the hips and reduces the impact on knees. It also minimizes the shock absorbed by the feet by allowing your midfoot to strike instead of your heel. As you run, concentrate on keeping your extremities close to the midline of your body and maintaining a brisk tempo.

Shoes Matter



Finally, always make sure that you are wearing appropriate footwear on the trail and off. Running shoes should always be replaced every 500 miles (or less, depending on the state of your shoes and your running habits). Do the math for yourself, but for most consistent runners, shoes should be worn for six months or so, and certainly never longer than a year.

Rachel Trotta is a certified personal trainer on the Upper West Side and owner of Zenith Personal Training NYC. Rachel helps people achieve their fitness goals and live vibrant, active, pain-free lives. She works with a variety of clients, from elite athletes to first-time exercisers, and is currently accepting new clients.