Running is great exercise for enhancing your health and overall well-being. Whether you plan to run in a big race, run for exercise, or just run for fun, following a few simple guidelines can help you stay ahead of the curve on injury prevention.
Get a leg up on the competition
Don’t skip your warm-up. You will get your heart rate up, raise your core temperature, and prepare your muscles for running. The best warm-up routines involve active dynamic stretches. These stretches are done while you continue to move instead of holding your muscles in one place.
And don’t forget your cool-down. Use static stretches after your run to help maintain flexibility when your muscles are already warm. Even if you are experiencing some pain, it is important to continue your cool-down routine and walk another half-mile or so in addition to stretching.
Consistency is key
Staying consistent in your routine will help prevent and alleviate pain. Keep your warm-up, running and cool-down routines the same; otherwise, any pain you are feeling could return after a few weeks.
Keep your body hydrated before and after running – even in cool weather – to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
If the shoe fits, wear it
Selecting proper footwear is an essential step in preventing running injuries. There is no one brand of shoe that is better than another. The best choice is a shoe that fits well, feels comfortable, and offers sufficient support. Be sure to monitor your shoes to make sure they are in good shape.
Running from pain
Even when practicing prevention techniques, injuries are still possible. Injuries such as tendonitis and hamstring strains come from overuse and inconsistency. Other common injuries that runners face include:
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) – A common injury that causes knee and hip pain when walking and running.
- Plantar fasciitis – Inflammation of the tissues in the bottom of the foot – particularly the heel and arch. Stretch your calf muscles in particular to prevent this injury.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (Runner’s Knee) – This injury is characterized by front or side knee pain, as well as hip weakness which could also be related to decreased flexibility.
If you experience these or other injuries, don’t let them keep you from running. Be sure to ice the injured area for 15-20 minutes and allow yourself some recovery time for a few days – but not complete rest. You can still do some lower impact cross-training activities such as walking or biking to stay active.
If the pain continues even after icing, come on in to see us at Rehab Associates. We can help identify the injury and recommend treatments to speed up recovery – as well as offer instructions in stretching techniques to keep your pain from running you.