Five quick tips to help you avoid running injuries
With warm weather on the horizon, you may be thinking about beginning a running program. Take care as you get started to avoid painful, routine-breaking running injuries. Running injuries usually start as a small twinge or minor soreness, but they may soon become painful enough to interrupt your run. With a little planning, you can avoid some common injuries.
Here are five great ways to prepare for an injury-free run:
1. Drink plenty of water – Hydration is critical to a healthy run. Drinking plenty of water before and after your run ensures that your body has the resources it needs to run and recover.
2. Add strength training to your routine – Lifting weights, doing body-weight fitness, or practicing yoga can all help you to build stronger muscles and reduce your risk of injury. Some running-related injuries are caused when your muscles become fatigued over the course of a run. Improving your overall physical strength improves your endurance and reduces the likelihood of injury.
3. Avoid overuse injuries – After a cold and dark winter, many runners are itching to get outside and start logging miles. If you’re a first-time runner, or if it’s been a while since you ran, make sure you give your body time to adapt to the increased activity. The same is true when you want to integrate longer runs into your existing program. Overexertion increases the chances that you’ll experience pulled muscles, shin splints and joint pain. Ease yourself into long runs by choosing a program specifically developed for your fitness level. These programs are designed to help you adapt to increasing levels of activity. For beginners, that may mean a couch-to-5k tutorial, and for experienced runners, that may mean a marathon program. If an injury persists, see your doctor or an orthopedic specialist.
4. Warm up and cool down – Warming up before a run is a great way to avoid injuries. When you stretch or jog in place before you work out, you’re increasing the blood flow to your muscles. This blood flow helps your muscles prepare for physical activity and helps you avoid muscle pulls or strains.
5. Run with good posture and form – When you run, your body’s muscles, joints, tendons and bones all work together to propel you forward. If this careful orchestration is off, it can mean pain or injury. Things like pronation, foot placement, gait length and posture all affect how you feel during and after your run. Watch a few videos on proper running form to stay mindful of how you are running. Many stores that specialize in running shoes will analyze your gate and help you address any problems.
Whether you’re new to the sport or looking to extend your range, running is a safe way for many to get fit. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise or running program. If unusual or persistent pain, swelling or discomfort are limiting your ability to run, contact Reid Health today and let our team of sports medicine specialists help you get back on the road.