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Ask the Physical Therapist

Mary Jean McKinnon, PTA

What are some risk factors for running injuries, and how can they be prevented?

We see a lot of running injuries that either come from overuse or improper running form. Here are three commonly seen risk factors, and how to prevent them.

  1. Turning in the leg while running.
    Runners can reduce the risk factors of turning in the leg and crossing the leg to the other side while running by strengthening the hip and by gait retraining.
  2. Crossing the leg to the other side while running.
    Again, strengthening of the hip and gait retraining will help reduce this issue.
  3. Increased shock to the lower leg.
    Probably no surprise here but once again, strengthening of the hip and gait retraining will help. An eccentric muscle contraction (muscle releasing) of the gluteus musculature absorbs shock in the lower leg.

Besides strengthening, cross training can also help increase economy in distance runners and increase VO2 max. A core strength program decreases a 5K time.

Strengthening Exercises:
Transverse Lunge
Lateral Step Ups
Lateral Stepping with Band at Ankle
Side and Back Kicks with Elastic (increased muscle contraction compared to machines)
Side lying hip abduction
Clam
Side Plank with Hip Abduction

Thoughts for Gait Retraining:
Keep knees pointing forward
Keep the hips level
Keep the core engaged
Fire the glutes
Reduce arm swing

Mary Jean McKinnon, PTA, is a physical therapy assistant with OrthoCarolina Eastover Physical Therapy.

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