This Season, Run Stronger and Injury-Free: Expert Physical Therapist Shares Proven Prevention Strategies

The best time to focus on injury prevention is right as running season starts

Make the most of this fresh running season with proven strategies to keep you on track.  

We tapped into the expertise of Dr. Matt Barle, physical therapist,  for his top tips to help you run healthier and happier all season long.

The Power of Strength Training

One of the biggest mistakes runners make, according to Dr. Barle, is skipping out on strength training. “Strength work is absolutely essential for runners”, he emphasizes.  “Many people think lifting weights will slow them down, but the opposite is true. Strength training improves your running efficiency and can actually make you faster – plus, it reduces your risk of overuse injuries”.

Dr. Barle’s Strength Routine Recommendations:

Frequency: Include 1-2 targeted strength training sessions per week.

Focus: Emphasize core stability (planks, bridges), lower body strength (squats, lunges, calf raises), and specific exercises that target common runner weaknesses (standing fire hydrants, ankle rockers). Upper body strength training (push-ups, rows) is also beneficial.

Duration: Aim for 30-45 minutes per session.

Intensity: Mix high-weight, low-rep exercises with lower-weight, higher-rep sets.

Technique: “Perfect form is more important than big weights,” says Dr. Barle. Incorrect technique increases your injury risk during workouts.

Prehab: Prevention is Key

Dr. Barle advises runners to supplement strength training with ‘prehab’ exercises.  “These exercises help strengthen areas commonly prone to runner injury, catching potential problems before they occur”, he explains. Hip crossovers, pelvic scoops, and eccentric calf raises are a few of his top recommendations.

Beyond Static Stretches: Why Dynamics Matter

Dr. Barle urges runners to rethink their stretching habits. “Research shows that static stretching before a run isn’t ideal and can actually reduce muscle performance”, he says. Instead, he recommends a dynamic warm-up to prime your body for the workout ahead.

Dynamic Stretching Examples:

Leg swings

Lunges with a twist

High knees

Butt kicks

Arm circles

Benefits of a Dynamic Warm-up:

Improves range of motion

Prepares muscles for activity

Reduces risk of strains and muscle tears

May even boost performance

The Right Shoes: A Crucial Investment

“Your running shoes are your most important piece of gear”, Dr. Barle insists.  Finding the right fit isn’t just about comfort; it’s essential for injury prevention. He explains that choosing shoes based on your running style and foot type can help prevent common issues like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures.

How to Choose the Right Running Shoes:

Visit a specialty running store: Get a professional gait analysis to find your ideal shoe type (stability, cushioned, etc.).

Think about terrain: Trail shoes differ from road-running shoes; choose based on where you run.

Replace regularly: “Most shoes last around 400-500 miles,” says Dr. Barle. Worn-out shoes lead to injuries.

Consider a shoe rotation: Dr. Barle recommends owning multiple pairs with different levels of support to reduce repetitive stress on your feet.

Listen to Your Body: Pain is a Signal

Finally, Dr. Barle stresses the importance of paying attention to how you feel during and after runs.  “Learn to recognize the difference between normal soreness and potential injury warning signs.  Don’t be afraid to rest or seek professional help if needed”, he advises. Early intervention can prevent small issues from becoming major setbacks.

Remember: Running should be enjoyable. By taking proactive steps to prevent injuries, you can reap the benefits of this fantastic activity with fewer interruptions.


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