Surviving the Run

By: Chad Evans, PT

Surviving the Run

Jacksonville has a great running culture with many great running events in the city. With all of the running comes many injuries during the run and during training as well.  Is running getting the best of you or are you surviving the run?  Most running related injuries are overuse in nature verse traumatic. Common running injuries seen in physical therapy range from joint pain, to shin splints, to various forms of “itis” or inflammation. It is very important to prepare yourself for running any distance with training, stretching and strengthening for proper form, making sure you have appropriate footwear, and you too can learn how to survive the run. 

JOI surviving the runSurviving the Run

Training To Survive the Run 

Training for any run can be a long process, but it is important to prepare your joints and muscles to get used to dealing with the stresses placed on the joints. There are plenty of great training plans found on the internet, from doing a couch to 5K with a walk/run program, to plans from Hal Higdon that progress distance and add speed and strength training, to staying with a run/walk plan with Jeff Galloway. It is important to try to stick with whatever plan works best for you to help build endurance for your muscles and cardiovascular system.

Stretching for the Run

In addition to training correctly, adhering to a proper stretching/strengthening program will be most beneficial to limit muscular tightness imbalances that can turn into hip and knee pain/injuries down to road. Make sure you are stretching the hamstrings, quads, calves, hip flexors, as well as the upper body to allow for proper running form.

Quad stretch standing.Quad Stretch

Supine Piriformis stretchPiriformis Stretch

Calf and Heel StretchCalf Stretch on the wall

Iliotibial Band StretchIT Band Stretch with Band

Hamstring Stretch for surviving the run


Doing light strengthening around the hips and core will also assist in preventing knee pain. It is crucial to have good strength of the hip musculature to keep the knees in proper alignment with each step. Most times in physical therapy we see patients with weak hips abduction strength (the muscles that allow for the hip to be stable in a standing or walking position) which overtime will cause stress to the inside part of the knee or problems with patellar tracking. Doing sidelying leg lifts or clamshells will help strengthen the hip abductors to decrease potential knee issues. In addition to exercising, one should have their running form assessed by a professional to detect potential problems and keep the knees safe.

Orthotics at JOI RehabOrthotics are done at JOI Rehab

Shoes for Running

Lastly, making sure your running shoes are in good shape and appropriate for your foot is key to lasting through a long run. Having your foot assessed by a physical therapist for arch height and the need for more or less stability will be a benefit to your feet.  If you have had foot or plantar fascia issues in the past, you may want to look at getting orthotics or inserts in your shoes.

If running is what you are interested in getting into, then make sure you stick with it, maybe get a friend or running group to keep you going! Happy trails!

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