6 Injury-Prevention Tips for Heavier Runners

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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6 Injury-Prevention Tips for Heavier Runners

Whether you’re a beginner looking to lose weight or an experienced runner in the Clydesdale category, there are a few challenges to overcome as a bigger runner. While runners come in all shapes and sizes, a higher body mass index (BMI) means you’ll need to take extra precautions to prevent injuries when you start a running routine and continue to improve your fitness.

Use these six tips for heavier runners to stay consistent and keep pounding the pavement without getting hurt:

1. TRY A RUN/WALK PROGRAM

If you’re concerned with getting fit without getting injured, a run/walk program can be a great way to burn calories and increase mileage slowly. For beginners, a run/walk program might look something like this:

  • Walk at a brisk pace for 10–15 minutes.
  • Alternate running for 30 seconds with walking for 30 seconds for 15 minutes.
  • Cool down with a 5-minute walk.

As your fitness improves, you’ll increase the duration of the running portion of the workout, running for 1–2 minutes while keeping your walk breaks to around 30 seconds. Continue to increase the run portion of this program for a minute at a time until you can run for about 20 minutes without a break.

2. CONSIDER A RUNNING GROUP

Staying motivated can be a major challenge for anyone. A running group keeps you motivated and helps you stay accountable. Being around like-minded people with similar goals can give you the spark you need to keep pushing through those tough days and weeks that are bound to pop up.

Within a good running group, you’re also likely to find a few veteran runners or a running coach who can offer advice when you need it — whether it’s about running shoes, surviving common aches and pains or altering your training plan to lose more weight and keep from getting hurt.


READ MORE > 7 EXPERT TIPS FOR RUNNING FOR WEIGHT LOSS


3. CROSS-TRAIN

A big part of staying injury-free is increasing your running distance slowly. While this might seem counter-productive for bigger runners whose goal is to lose weight, if you increase your mileage by more than 10% per week the risk of injury rises.

That’s why it’s important to mix up your runs with other activities like cycling, swimming and using the stairclimber or rowing machine at the gym. These activities are all low impact and won’t put the same stress on your joints as running does. They’ll also improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn plenty of calories until you’re ready to increase your mileage and the number of days per week you run.

4. DON’T NEGLECT RECOVERY

The key to losing weight and becoming a trim, fit runner is staying consistent. If you neglect recovery, you won’t be able to run as often, and you’ll find it more difficult to reach your fitness goals.

After each workout, get in the habit of a recovery routine that includes the following:

  • Ice: Minor aches and pains can be part of the process. While your body gets used to the stress of running, ice your knees, ankles, back or any other parts of your body that are sore or achy for 20–30 minutes.
  • Stretch: Stretching after you run can improve mobility and may help your muscles feel less tight and sore the day after your workout.
  • Rest: Throughout your week, include 1–2 rest days for your body to recover.
  • Nutrition: Eating a nutritious meal immediately following your workout helps you recover faster, gain muscle and lose fat.

5. BUY THE RIGHT RUNNING SHOES

In general, heavier runners should choose a running shoe with a midsole that’s on the firm side. Denser midsoles made with polyurethane or EVA material provide more cushion on impact for your joints and last longer than lighter weight materials.


READ MORE > WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR FEET WHEN BUYING RUNNING SHOES


To prevent injury, it’s also important to choose a shoe according to your individual needs. Foot mobility, arch and foot strike all play a factor in which shoe is ideal for you. If you haven’t had a gait analysis, it’s a good idea to head to a specialty running store where you can have your foot strike observed on a treadmill. You’ll also get to try on several pairs of shoes to determine which option fits you best.  

It’s also important for Clydesdale runners to monitor shoe wear and replace old shoes with new ones around the 300- to 400-mile mark.

6. GET THE RIGHT GEAR

Just like any other sport, the right gear can make your overall experience more enjoyable and, in some cases,prevent injury. In addition to paying close attention to your shoes, here are a few other items that can help-out on the road:

  • Compression tights: Tights give you added support, reduce soreness and help prevent swelling in the arms and legs.
  • Anti-chafe cream: Products like Body Glide prevent chafing on areas of the body where the skin rubs together or can become irritated from tight-fitting clothing.
  • Technical running gear: Look for running-specific clothing that’s comfortable and made from fabric that wicks away moisture to prevent excessive sweat from becoming an issue.

GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN

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About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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