10 Summer Running Tips to Prevent Injuries

Summer is the perfect time to put on your running shoes, break a sweat, get in your cardiovascular exercise, and enjoy the warm weather. But whether you're someone who trains for marathons or you're just getting into running for fun, it's important to be aware of the potential for injuries.

At Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates, our sports medicine doctors are passionate about the prevention of running injuries, and they want their patients to know that many orthopedic injuries -- including sports injuries -- are preventable when the right precautions and techniques are applied. Here are some of our top 10 summer running tips to avoid injury and lose weight this season.

  1. 1- Make sure you're wearing the right shoes.

    To avoid issues like shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and stress fractures, it's crucial to wear well-fitting shoes. Invest in a quality pair of running shoes that provide adequate support based on your foot type. Don't forget to replace them every 300-400 miles or when signs of wear appear.

    In addition to proper footwear, consider joining a local running club. This type of club offers training sessions and valuable advice on running gear. You can also explore many specialist running stores that provide a wide selection of gear tailored to your specific needs. By leveraging their expertise, you can enhance your running experience and improve your performance.

  2. 2- Stay Hydrated to Boost Performance

    Running, especially during the summer, can lead to increased fluid loss, making hydration a critical aspect of your running routine. Dehydration can lead to heat stroke, muscle cramps, and fatigue which can increase the risk of running-related injuries. Therefore, always make sure you're well-hydrated before, during, and after your run. Drink plenty of water and consider isotonic drinks that replace both fluids and electrolytes.

  3. Be mindful of your body's hydration signals such as thirst and urine color. Your hydration needs may vary depending on your sweat rate, the climate, and the intensity of your run. Remember to carry a water bottle during your runs, or plan your route around water fountains to ensure you always have access to fluids. This simple strategy is a powerful way to enhance your running experience, prevent injuries and improve your overall summer sports performance.

  4. 3- Heat Acclimatization is Key

    Summer running means dealing with higher temperatures and humidity. It's crucial to gradually acclimate your body to the heat to prevent issues like heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses. Start by doing shorter runs in the hotter parts of the day and slowly increase your distance and pace over a couple of weeks.

  5. Your body will gradually adapt to the heat, improving your heat tolerance and reducing the risk of heat-related injuries. Incorporating heat acclimatization into your running regimen is an effective technique to prevent summer running injuries and enhance your marathon training.

  6. 4-Master Your Running Form

    Running form is one of the most overlooked aspects of injury prevention. An improper running technique can lead to excessive strain on your joints and muscles, which in turn can cause injuries. Working with a running coach can be beneficial to master a proper running form. They can analyze your gait and offer personalized advice to improve your technique. Ensure your strides are short and quick, and your body is upright with a slight forward lean. These adjustments can reduce the impact on your joints, enhance your running efficiency, and significantly lower the chances of incurring a running injury.

    By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can enjoy your summer runs while minimizing the risk of injuries. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Happy running!

  7. 5- Warm Up and Cool Down Properly

    Before jumping straight into a run, it's essential to properly warm up your muscles with dynamic stretches and light jogging. After your run, take the time to cool down with static stretches and foam rolling to prevent muscle soreness and stiffness.

    Warming up before any rigorous physical activity, especially running, prepares your body for the upcoming exertion. It increases your heart rate, boosts the blood flow to your muscles, and loosens your joints. A good warm-up includes dynamic stretches such as high knees, leg swings, and arm circles, as well as a light jog to gradually raise your body's core temperature.

    On the other hand, a cool-down routine helps your body to gradually return to its normal state. Post-run, your heart is still pumping blood faster than usual to your working muscles. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness, or even fainting. Gentle static stretches and foam rolling after your run can aid in reducing muscle tension and promote flexibility. Cooling down also aids recovery by helping eliminate lactic acid build-up, reducing muscle soreness and stiffness. Remember, both warm-up and cool-down are integral parts of a running routine and should not be neglected to ensure a safe and injury-free running experience.

  8. 6- Pay Attention to Your Form

    Paying attention to your form is a key factor in preventing injuries, enhancing efficiency, and improving performance. It is central to a runner's training schedule, which should not only include distance and pace but also focus on the correct running posture. Ensure your head is up, shoulders are relaxed, and hands are at your sides. You should aim to land lightly on your feet, ideally on the midfoot or forefoot. Remember, it's worth taking a few extra weeks to consistently work on and reinforce good form.

    When it comes to supplements, it's important to remember that they are just one piece of the puzzle. A balanced diet, proper rest, and a well-structured training plan are key to successful running. However, a few worthwhile supplements could support your running performance. For instance, protein supplements can assist in muscle recovery, while electrolyte supplements can help replace lost salts during long runs and improve hydration. But remember, supplements should complement, not replace, a balanced diet. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement routine.

  9. 7- Cross-train and Vary Your Workouts.

    Cross-training running can offer numerous benefits for runners. It involves incorporating activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training into your routine. This not only helps prevent injuries by targeting different muscle groups but also provides a break from the repetitive motion of running. By varying your workouts, you can keep things interesting and challenge your body in new ways.

    If you're new to running or recovering from an injury, it's crucial to start gradually and avoid overexertion. Begin with shorter distances and gradually increase your mileage over time. Remember to listen to your body and rest when needed, especially if you feel fatigued.

    To ensure both your sustainable pace and proper training techniques, it's recommended to seek guidance from a qualified running coach. They can tailor a training plan to your individual needs, including a sharp interval session suggestion. Additionally, prioritize getting eight or nine hours of sleep each night to aid in your recovery and performance.

  10. 8- Don't Forget to Stretch

    Stretching before and after you run helps to prevent injuries by warming up your muscles and improving your range of motion. Static stretches like hamstring stretches and calf raises are especially important for runners.

    Stretching is a crucial component of physical fitness and particularly important for runners. It is an activity designed to elongate muscles to improve elasticity, flexibility, and overall muscle health. Stretching both before and after tough training sessions can mitigate injury risk, enhance mobility, and promote faster recovery.

    For example, let's consider free running groups. These communities often incorporate group stretching routines into their sessions, encouraging six to eight reps of each stretch to ensure thorough muscle engagement. These targeted routines not only prepare the body for the physical and mental demands of running.

    Incorporating comprehensive stretching regimes into your routine can drastically reduce the risk of injuries. A well-stretched muscle can better handle the physical and mental demands of running, resulting in improved performance and reduced fatigue. Therefore, never underestimate the power of stretching; it is as significant as the run itself.

  11. 9- Be Aware of Your Surroundings

    Being aware of your surroundings while running is not just about safety, it's also about enhancing your running experience. From a safety perspective, being attentive can help you avoid potential hazards such as uneven terrains, loose stones, or sudden obstacles that could cause injuries. If you're running in urban areas, it's crucial to be mindful of traffic, pedestrians, and road crossings. Moreover, in more secluded areas, it's important to be alert to wildlife and weather changes.

  12. On the other hand, being present and tuned into your surroundings can also enrich your run. It allows you to appreciate the scenery, connect with nature, and find new routes, turning your run into a more enjoyable and fulfilling activity. Always remember, being aware is not only about looking out for potential dangers, but also about embracing the journey and making the most out of your run.

  13. 10- Invest in a Quality Orthopedic Running Sock.

    Investing in quality orthopedic running socks is significant and should not be overlooked when preparing for your running journey. These socks are specifically engineered to provide optimum support to your foot's arch and heel, which can drastically improve your comfort level during runs. The health benefits they offer are manifold, especially when it comes to minimizing the risk of developing running-related injuries.

    Quality orthopedic socks can help maintain proper foot alignment during intense interval sessions and long-distance runs. This is particularly important because improper foot alignment can put undue strain on your muscles and joints, leading to potential injuries and chronic discomfort.

    Moreover, good orthopedic running socks often feature moisture-wicking materials and breathable designs. These can help prevent issues like athlete's foot, blisters, and other skin irritations that could impede your running performance.

    In essence, investing in quality orthopedic running socks is not just about enhancing your running comfort; it's about safeguarding your foot health and ensuring you can consistently perform at your best during intense interval sessions and beyond. Therefore, it is an investment worth making for every running enthusiast.

    By following these simple tips, you can help to prevent injuries and enjoy a healthy, active summer. That said, accidents still happen, and if you do become injured, you'll need an orthopedic specialist you can trust to help get you back on your feet.

Visit Your Orthopedic Surgeon Regularly

At Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates, our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for all your orthopedic needs. We offer a full range of services, from sports medicine and joint replacement to spine surgery and trauma care. If you’re a runner who’s ready to receive the best sports medicine Pittsburgh has to offer, we can’t wait to meet you.

If you’re ready to find relief and get back to the life you love, don’t wait! Contact GPOA today to schedule an appointment.