Sports Injuries and Rehabilitation WimbledonHow to set up a Running program and make it injury free

Running is one of the easiest and simplest sports to practice and it’s free! Put on your trainers, go outside, and just run.  Simple.  20 or 30 minutes spent running will likely improve your entire day and even week. For lots of you out there, it makes you feel alive.

However, there is one important thing to consider when taking up the sport; the risk of injury.

When you run, keep the following rules in mind to stay injury-free:

Build slowly and take proper rests

Start gradually.  Be a tortoise not a hare!

If you are building distance or running frequency, make sure you plan carefully.  Follow a schedule that gradually gets you to your goal and log your runs to keep track of how much you’re actually running.  Allow your body to rest and recover after a few weeks.

Slowly building distance and frequency is best to avoid common overuse injuries like shin splints or plantar fasciitis as well as burnout.

Listen to your body

Every runner is different so listen to your body.  If you experience significant fatigue, pain or prolonged muscle soreness, stop running and take a few days off.  Then, when you return, start with light, easy runs. Come and visit the Wimbledon Osteopath if the pain or soreness persists.  Book in a clinical sports massage and assessment with Alessia. She is skilled in kineseo-taping also if you have to keep going for a race.

Use cross-training activities to supplement your running, improve your muscle balance, and keep you injury-free. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and improve your aerobic fitness, but be careful not to aggravate injury-prone areas.

Warm up and cool down

Start off with a light jog for about 5 – 10 minutes before speeding up to your normal pace.  Do some stretching exercises that involve quicker movements to warm up different muscle groups. The osteopaths here are all training to show you great stretch routines and advise you on what would suit you best.

Cooling down after a run could mean slowing to a walk for 5 minutes before following with long, slow stretches of the major muscle groups.

You never want to train for bulging muscles. You need just enough core, hip, and lower-leg strength training to keep your pelvis and lower-extremity joints properly positioned so you run symmetrically.

Keep an eye on your goal

The idea is to get there without getting injured whether it is a marathon or park run. Don’t just try to run faster and further every time—I know it’s tempting.  Save the PB and sprint finish for your race day.

Never run through pain and work on you running style

People said things like, “no pain no gain.”  Not true. A minor injury often starts out as a very dull ache or soreness and should never be ignored.  Rest the muscles for a day or two.

Over-striding is a common mistake that can lead to decreased efficiency and increased injury risk. If you shorten your stride, you’ll land “softer” with each footfall, incurring lower impact forces and reduce injuries.

Run easy on easy days

On easy run days, it should feel easy for you like you could go faster and farther but don’t need to.  Holding yourself back is perhaps the difficult part, but it’s key to keep you from overdoing it.  Easy runs allow your body to recover from harder workouts. Too many runs at a fast pace and you risk over-training, overuse injuries, and burnout (feeling excessively tired).

Vary your running surface

Mix trails with a treadmill. If not, then on race day on a pavement, your body may feel the shock.  Vary your running surface, keeping in mind that softer surfaces can be easier on your body, but also allowing your body time to adapt to running on harder surfaces.

Run on level ground

Beware or running on a street that is slanted.  Choose a path that is level to keep your hips aligned.

Build core strength

Strengthening your core muscles, including the hip, buttocks, back, and abdomen, as well as the outer and inner thighs can increase leg stability and reduce risk of certain injuries or pain (including IT band syndrome and knee pain).  Following a run with a few strength exercises is a good way to incorporate it into your training routine.

At the Wimbledon Osteopath we can help you with Pilates-derived mat exercises that will do the job.

Improve flexibility with stretching

Stretches performed a few times a week can improve your flexibility and provide relief to tight muscles that will improve performance and promote better recovery times. Krystyna with over 20 years of yoga experience is perfectly placed to advise on stretching.


After a hard run such as speed work or race, take at least 48 hours of rest.  Swimming, yoga, cycling and Pilates complement running and can be considered active rest in between runs.

 Follow the RICE principle for a speedy recovery

When you feel pain or soreness, remember the RICE principle—rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Rest means just that. Stop running for a day or two.

Ice the injured area for 10-15 minutes several times a day.  Compress with strapping, and elevate it by propping it up while you sit or sleep with a pillow under your knee or leg.  If you don’t feel confident to apply the strapping yourself; come and see Alessia who is trained specifically in that and has years of experience.