How to Condition Your Body for Running

Running is an increasingly popular way to exercise your feet, body, and mind. Whether you run in races, run with friends, or do solitary courses, running can help you increase your physical fitness and health. However, like with all forms of fitness and exercise, you can run the risk of injury. Pay attention to how your body responds to long and short bouts of running because your body will tell you if something is wrong and your stride is running the risk of causing you injury.

Why does running cause more injuries than walking?

Running is a more strenuous form of exercise than walking, and you’re generating more force with each step which rebounds off the ground to your joints. If you’re a new runner or you have weakened muscles and joints, you run a higher risk of inflammation and injury that comes from improper form, ill-fitting shoes, and running too far on muscles and joints that aren’t used to the impact. However, with a solid regiment of stretching and muscle building, you can strengthen your feet and legs to reduce running injuries.



What are the three most common areas for running injuries?

  • Your Foot
    • Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation along your heel and the bottom of your foot which takes your heel feel tight, painful, and tender. Pain can range from slightly uncomfortable to incapacitating, and plantar fasciitis strikes when you have weakened muscles in your feet. The impact of running hits your heel if you’re running in old, worn shoes, or if you’re running in shoes that don’t fit you properly, and the pain will return cyclically even if it wears away during the course of a run, only to be back again the following morning. You can treat the condition temporarily by icing your feet and getting better shoes, but the only way to reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis is through targeted stretching, exercises designed to strengthen foot muscles, and, in moderate to severe cases, physical therapy for soft-tissue injuries


  • Your Knee
    • Runner’s Knee is one of the most common forms of knee injuries, and running can cause a lot of them. If under your kneecap is aching while you run, and that ache gets worse when you run harder, you have patellofemoral knee syndrome, more commonly known as runner’s knee. This injury can be caused by anything from running on an uneven surface to weak joints and poor shoes — anything that puts undue pressure on your knees. Strengthening your knees is the best way to prevent more serious, long-term injuries, and practicing with different strides, such as shorter steps that make your feet hit the ground under your body, can help reduce the strain of impact.
      • IT Band Syndrome is another common knee injury. If your knee pain is centered along the side of your knee instead of under your kneecap, your iliotibial band could be inflamed. Far from just causing pain that keeps you out of the race temporarily, IT Band Syndrome can become more and more serious if it’s not properly treated. This knee injury is caused by repetitive pressure; if you run the same route frequently and it includes a lot of downhill portions, it can cause equally repetitive stress on your knee’s tendons. So vary your routes and ask your physical therapist about the best treatments for soft-tissue injuries.
  • Your Ankle and Leg
    • Achilles Tendinitis occurs when your Achilles tendon is inflamed, making you feel pain along your Achilles tendon along the back of your ankle that, just like plantar fasciitiscan be a sharp bite of pain that ranges from uncomfortable to race-ending. One of the most common causes of this inflammation is a combination of footwear that doesn’t adequately support the shape of your foot and a shift in your training’s intensity. If you also have tight calves, it can be a recipe for disaster and can make you slow down your training until this slow-healing injury fades. While you can temporarily treat Achilles tendinitis by icing your legs and getting better shoes, the only way to make sure you don’t get a repeat injury is to strengthen your lower legs with muscle-building exercises like calf raises and box jumps once your legs are ready for them.


What can you do when injuries have you dropping mileage or time?

If any of these injuries or any others are reducing your ability to run or making you run slower, run through a list of potential culprits in your running routine:

  • Are your shoes old or worn through?
  • Do you frequently run along the same routes with hard ground, downhill parts, and the same turns?
  • Are you not stretching and exercising your legs enough? Running is a great form of exercise, but you want to have the muscular infrastructure to support it.
  • Do you have a recurring injury that won’t go away no matter how you alter your routine and footwear?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, start altering your routine to make running healthier and safer. If you have a persistent injury and repeatedly inflamed joints, consider making an appointment with your physical therapist. Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab is here to answer your questions and help you keep running. To reach the Running Experts at Cawley Physical Therapy please call 570-208-2787 or email