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Running injuries are common, but they don’t have to be. Reduce your risk by following these guidelines to maximize your safety.

Before you begin the program

  • Always consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise routine. 
  • Develop a running plan and strategy that is compatible with your goal and your current level of fitness (see pages # to # for help with creating a successful plan).
  • Set safe, achievable goals and advance slowly and cautiously.

What to wear

A local running or sports shoe store is a good place to start and ask questions. These specialty stores will evaluate your feet and running patterns to help find the best shoe for you. Also keep these tips in mind:

  • Buy shoes at the end of the day. Your foot expands throughout the day, so you will want to try on shoes when your foot is the largest.
  • Orthotic shoe inserts can be valuable for people with flat feet, high-arched feet, unstable ankles or foot problems.
  • Sixty percent of a shoe’s shock absorption is lost after 250 to 500 miles of use, so people who run up to 10 miles per week should consider replacing their shoes every 9 to 12 months.


  • Wear lightweight, breathable clothing, which will prevent perspiration buildup and allow for better body heat regulation.
  • Dress in layers. The inner layer should be material that takes perspiration away from the skin (polypropylene, thermal); the middle layer (not necessary for legs) should be for insulation and absorbing moisture (cotton); the outer layer should protect against wind and moisture (nylon).
  • To avoid frostbite in cold weather, do not have gaps of bare skin between gloves and jacket, wear a hat and cover your neck.

Keeping your skin safe

  • Always wear sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher when running outdoors, regardless of time of year.
  • In cold weather, protect exposed areas, such as the nose, with petroleum jelly.

Before you run

  • Drink 10 to 15 ounces of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to running so you are hydrated.
  • Stretch for five minutes before beginning.
  • Increase your speed slowly.

During your run

  • In cool weather, you are less likely to get chilled if you run into the wind when you start running and run with the wind at the finish.
  • Do not run at night. If you run at dusk or dawn, wear reflective material and stay in well-lit areas.
  • Whenever possible, run on a clear, smooth, resilient, even and reasonably soft surface.
  • Run with a partner when possible. If alone, carry identification.
  • Avoid using headphones, especially if you are running on the street, so you can hear traffic and warning sounds
  • Stop running if you are hurt; pushing through pain can make an injury worse, which will keep you from running for a long time.

After you run 

  • It’s important to stretch after running to help prevent tight muscles and injuries.
  • You can lose between 6 and 12 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of running. Drink 10 to 15 ounces of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes along your route. Weigh yourself before and after a run. For every pound lost, drink 1 pint of fluid.
  • Inspect your shoes after each run; if they have worn thin or are angled, purchase new shoes before your next run.

Wondering if you're healthy enough to start exercise/running? Not sure how to start exercising and running safely? Jeffrey S. Stephenson, M.D., Nonsurgical Orthopedics has the answers in this video.

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