Running Free from Injury

 

Whether your young athlete runs competitively or simply for enjoyment, it can be tough on his or her body. Up to 70% of runners develop injuries every year, including sore feet and knees, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and even stress fractures.

Here’s how your young one can help prevent injury:

Choose running shoes carefully

Shoes should provide good shock absorption and strong support. A shoe with a stiff heel counter (the part at the back of the heel above the sole) helps keep the foot and ankle from rolling. Tie shoelaces tight, and never run a race in new shoes.

Replace worn shoes

Get new ones after every 500 miles of use — that’s about once every 8 months if your young athlete runs 2 or more miles a day.

Run on a track or other soft surface

This will help reduce the impact to the feet and legs. Avoid running on a slanted surface.

Warm up before running and cool down afterward

Stretch the calves, thighs, and hamstrings before and after a run.

Begin a running with a slow walk

Progress to a slow jog before picking up speed.

Use proper technique

Runners should avoid “overstriding” by having their feet land beneath their hips. Their shoulders should be back and hands slightly cupped, avoiding clenched fists. Elbows should be at a 90° angle, close to the body.

Increase your running time, distance, and intensity gradually

Take off one or two days a week to give the body time to recover.

Running into Injury

Despite doing everything right, your young athlete might become injured. Here’s how you can help accelerate the recovery:

  • Use ice to reduce swelling. Heat can be used if there is minimal swelling over an area that needs increased circulation.
  • Switch to non-weight bearing exercises. Swimming and bike riding are good alternatives.
  • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises. Have your athlete should consult with the team trainer for a regimen that’s appropriate for the injury.

For more information on AHN Sports Performance, visit AHN.org/SportsPerformance.