You are here: Home > Pain & Injury Center > Sports & General Info > Running Injuries > How to Avoid Injuries When You Begin Running

How to Avoid Injuries When You Begin Running

Buy good shoes

Which running shoes to buy depends on a number of factors: your feet, the amount of running you plan to do, the surfaces that you will be running on, and more.

Take the time to find a store that specializes in running shoes and has knowledgeable staff.

Plan to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.


Warm up before stretching, and stretch before running.

Although the benefits of stretching before running have not been scientifically proven, runners tend to have tight muscles, particularly in their hamstrings and calves, and thatís where many injuries occur.

Get strong

Strength training, particularly for the hips, increases stability throughout the whole length of the leg. Include exercises to strengthen the abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus in your regular fitness routine. Strengthening your core muscles is also important.

The goal of strengthening exercises is to balance the body, keeping it properly aligned and therefore less susceptible to injury.

Donít stick to just running

Cross training, by taking a day off from running per week and doing another activity that will increase fitness but not aggravate an existing injury, will help to avoid running injuries. Swimming, cycling, using an elliptical training, and rowing are some possibilities. 

Donít overdo it

Avoid doing too much, too soon, too fast. The body needs time to get used to changes in mileage or intensity. Muscle fibers torn during exercise need adequate recovery time.

Advice is often given to limit any training mileage increase to 10 percent per week. This is not foolproof, however. An assistant professor at the University of Calgary has the first-time runners in his program increase their mileage by only 3 percent a week, with a 97 percent rate of success getting them into a marathon, fit and injury-free.

So consider an increase of only 3-5 percent a week. Keep a log of your weekly mileage and how you feel after each run.

Pay attention to your body

If something hurts, stop running. Donít run through any soreness, ache, or pain. Your body is telling you that you have damaged it and it needs you to stop what youíre doing so it can heal.

If you are sore or in pain, take three days off. Do something else, like swimming, gentle walking, or cycling. On the fourth day, do half your regular easy-day program and go much slower. Build up gradually and pay attention to your body. Be prepared to scale back again if necessary.

Shorten your stride

Shortening your stride by 10 percent means your foot will land more softly with each step, which means a less forceful impact, which means less chance of a stress fracture to the tibia.

Run on a level surface

Running on a cambered road, facing the traffic, is a safe way of running, but it means that one foot is always hitting the road lower on the slope than the other. Therefore one foot is constantly over-pronating while the other under-pronates, increasing the likelihood of injury.

Use a treadmill or run on a level track at least part of the time. When on a track, run at a slow pace to avoid the unequal torque on your feet and legs when always turning in one direction.