How to prevent overuse injuries during half marathon training

Injury Prevention, Running, Strength Training, Tips / Thursday, January 26th, 2017

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Last fall I had planned on running a half marathon locally here in Wichita called the prairie fire race series. Unfortunately I ended up sidelining myself due to developing plantar fasciitis in my right foot. I have previously struggled with I band syndrome and shin splints as well. Being a distance runner these are all common overuse injuries that are commonly see and ones that I commonly see in my physical therapy clinic. I want to go over some ways on how to prevent overuse injuries during half marathon training. Now these tips can also be used and should be used for all runners no matter the distance.


How to Prevent Overuse Injuries and the Most Common Ones


Plantar fasciitis

Did you start training for a race? Want to learn how to prevent overuse injuries and the most common ones to keep you on the road?

What it is:

Also known as runner’s heel, it is a sharp pain in the heel or arch of your foot. Most commonly you will feel it after or during a run, first thing in the morning, or after you have been sitting down and in your first few steps. 

How to Prevent it:

Stretch out your calves!!! After each and every run stretch your calves for 30 seconds each. Don’t just do the standard straight knee stretch. Bend that knee as well and hold it like that for 30 seconds. What you will notice when you are doing the stretch with your knee bent is the stretch is felt closer down to the ankle. 

Shin splints

What it is:

Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS, tends to be a catch all phrase for pain in the front of the lower leg. However, true MTSS or shin splints, is pain felt along the inside of the tibia (or shin). It is caused by the repetitive pounding and stress put on the lower legs causing the tissues and bone in this area to become inflamed. 

How to Prevent it:

  • keep your hips and calves strong and stretched
  • don’t do too much downhill running
  • check your form (or have it checked for you) 
  • proper footwear

IT band syndrome

What it is:

This happens when the Iliotibial band, a band of tissue (fascia) that runs from the hip down to the knee on the outside of the leg, becomes tight and inflamed. Usually it will manifest as knee pain on the outside of your knee. The pain is most prevalent after sitting for a while and then standing, or going down stairs.

How to Prevent it:

Do lots of hip strengthening exercises, particularly leg lifts and single leg glute bridges. If you run on a track regularly make sure you alternate directions each time. If you always go one direction the inside leg is very susceptible to IT Band syndrome. 

Foam roll, foam roll, and I’ll say it again, FOAM ROLL!

Did you start training for a race? Want to learn how to prevent overuse injuries and the most common ones to keep you on the road?

Runner’s knee

What it is:

Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, PFPS. This occurs when the tissue around the knee becomes irritated with knee bending activities. Typically, the pain is noted around the patella (kneecap).

How to Prevent it:

Single Leg Glute Bridges.

Oh yeah, stretch your hamstrings out.


What do I do if I get one of these?

What do you do if you end up getting any of these? Your first step is to stop the activity until you are properly evaluated. Second stop, obviously, is your physical therapist unless your insurance requires a referral from a primary care physician. For all of these conditions I will almost always recommend ASTYM to my patients. It has helped me so much when I have developed a couple of these issues in the past as well as many of my patients. 


More Injury Prevention Posts

Warm Up For your Workout and Prevent Injury

4 Exercises for Injury Prevention in Runners

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