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 this season.
1- Make sure you're wearing the right shoes.
Wearing old, worn-out shoes can lead to problems like shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and stress fractures. Be sure to invest in a good pair of running shoes that offer support for your particular foot type, and replace them every 300-400 miles or when they start to show signs of wear.
2- 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.
3- Be careful not to overdo it.
If you're just getting started with running, or if you're coming back from an injury, it's important to ease into it and avoid doing too much too soon. Start with shorter distances and gradually build up to longer runs, and be sure to listen to your body if it starts to feel fatigued.
4- Stay hydrated.
Dehydration can lead to cramps, which can put you at risk for other injuries like muscle pulls and tears. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run. Wondering how much water is enough? A good rule of thumb is to drink 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of running.
5- Avoid running in the heat of the day.
Running in extreme heat can put you at risk for dehydration, heat stroke, and other serious health problems, so it's best to avoid running during the hottest part of the day. If possible, stick to running in the cooler hours of the morning or evening. If you do have to run in the heat, be sure to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed.
6- Pay attention to your form.
Proper running form can help you avoid injuries, so be sure to keep your head up, shoulders relaxed, hands at your sides, and land lightly on your feet. If you start to feel pain in any part of your body, slow down and check your form.
7- Use caution on uneven surfaces.
Uneven surfaces like gravel, sand, and dirt can increase your risk of twisting your ankle or taking a fall, so be sure to take it easy when running on these types of surfaces. If possible, stick to running on flat, even surfaces like sidewalks and paved trails.
8- Be aware of your surroundings.
Distracted running is one of the leading causes of running-related injuries, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you're running outdoors, be sure to stay alert and watch out for hazards like cars, cyclists, and other runners. If you're running on a treadmill, pay attention to the control panel and be sure to stay within your safety zone.
9- Invest in a quality orthopedic running sock.
Compression socks are designed to help improve blood circulation and prevent injuries, so they're a great investment for any runner. Be sure to choose a sock that's comfortable, breathable, and offers the right level of compression for your needs.
10- Visit your orthopedic surgeon regularly.
Even if you're taking all the right precautions, you may still be at risk of developing a running-related injury. That's why it's important to visit your orthopedic surgeon on a regular basis, especially if you're training for a race or increasing your mileage. At GPOA, our orthopedic surgeons can help you identify any potential problems and offer suggestions on how to prevent them.
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.
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.