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  • Writer's pictureKely Kuhn PT

Let's get Running

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

Im really excited to start delving into my running services. I became a Physical Therapist because I was an athlete growing up and have a passion to help people compete. I have had a great opportunity throughout my career to work with athletes at all levels from all different kind of sports but in the last several years I have really focused on runners and I continue to learn everything I can about the sport of running.

Running is a great sport, its good exercise, its affordable, its great for stress, but there is a high rate of injury associated with it. This does not mean that running is harmful, and we know that it doesn't increase your risk for arthritis as many have previously believed. When managed correctly the benefits outweigh the cost. Nothing frustrates me more than when health care professionals tell people that their only option for injuries is to give up running. In most cases this is simply not true.

There are so many things that can be done to manage running injuries and reduce injury rate and this is something I'm going to be focusing on in more detail in the future, but will start with an overview of some of the main topics. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, there is a lot to touch on.

First, runners need to learn to manage the load of running. Running is a high load activity and our body has to be resilient enough to handle that load. Runners can learn to monitor how quickly they progress into and during running programs. Anytime a runner first starts a running program or quickly increases running volume they are slightly more vulnerable to injury flares. That risk can be decreased by monitoring progression. Runners can also learn to monitor their overall wellness and tailor programs to how they are feeling that day. For example, if you had a really bad nights sleep and are very tired that may be a day to dial back your workout and adjust your running schedule accordingly.

The bones, muscles and tendons also need to be resilient enough to tolerate the demands of running including shock absorption and generating force. Running injury screens are very useful to help determine readiness to handle this task. A screen can identify certain " weak" spots in mobility, strength or movement patterns that may make a particular runner more sensitive to certain injuries. Identifying these individual weak spots can determine a proper workout plan and warm up for that runner.

That leads me to the ever so important and often neglected warm up. Overall, we are a sedentary society, we do not move a lot throughout the day. Runners often go from the classroom or computer desk straight to a run. Having little to no transition from a relatively sedentary day to a high load activity may increase vulnerability to injury. A proper warm up and potentially adding a few exercises during the work day can help greatly.

Warm up can also help a runner achieve their optimal form during a run. Form is important but I cannot stress enough that there is no one size fits all for running. Changing a runner’s form without understanding their specific needs and body structure can cause a whole host of other problems. But, understanding ones running form can be valuable to determine weak spots that can be addressed with an exercise program. Sometimes just adding in exercises to give the brain a chance to feel new movements can lead to improved running form without any conscious changes. This is the best case scenario. If a runner is dealing with an injury, slight adjustment to running technique especially cadence can help significantly reduce that injury.

And of course, I cannot leave out shoes and insoles. This might be the question I get the most, " what shoes should I wear?" Unfortunately there is no clear cut answer on shoes. We know that two people with a similar structure and foot type will run very differently in the exact same shoe. Also runners may need to change the style of shoe they run in at different times in their running career based on many factors. What works for a runner today may be very different in a few years. But there are some tips that can help all. For example, possibly rotating through three different pairs of shoes may add some variability into runs and decrease injury. First and foremost, though, shoes need to be comfortable and fit well. Beyond that we have to look at individual structure, form and injury needs to be able to find the perfect fit.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is helping runners learn what to do if they do have an injury. Pain does not always mean running has to be avoided completely. Often times just backing off intensity or duration or both may be better than complete rest. I want all runners to have guidelines to know when its ok to run through a little pain and when they need to stop. I also want them learning to use exercises as soon as possible to shorten the duration of the injury.

I will continue to update posts in more detail on each of the above topics, so stay tuned for more.


This program, videos and content is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. It is for educational purposes only. If you chose to try any of the exercises presented here do so at your own risk. Please consult a physician before you start any new program.

Not every exercise is safe for everybody. Correct execution of all exercises is imperative to prevent injury. Please consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your exercise execution or if an exercise is right for you.

You are responsible for yourself and will not hold Kelly Kuhn or Kelly Kuhn Physical Therapy liable for any injury or illness.

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