Imagine how great it would feel to be able to enjoy the thrill and health of running without the fear of injury.
It’s a fantastic way to discipline yourself, spend time outdoors, stay active, and keep your lungs and muscles in great shape.
However, many people get injured each year while running as well. Many times this is simply due to poor form. The good news is that you can get moving and enjoy a run with a lower risk of injury.
Here are six tips on how you can avoid injury and improve your running technique.
1. Wear the Correct Shoes
Before you step outside for a run, make sure you have the right footwear. Running outside is a lot different than running on a treadmill indoors.
Make sure your foot fits snugly in the heel so you don’t have a shoe that slides while you run. That friction can cause blisters and other injuries. Also, you will need to make sure your shoes have adequate arch support. Supporting your foot can help prevent a variety of injuries.
Finally, your running shoes should have good traction and flexibility to prevent falls on uneven surfaces. And remember, you should replace your running shoes every 250 miles, even if they still look good!
2. Warm-Up Before Your Run
Many injuries are caused when people go straight into their run without stretching or warming up. That’s a mistake and can cause you to pull a muscle or strain your legs.
The purpose of warming up is to give your muscles and joints a chance to loosen up while also gradually increasing your heart rate. That way, you’ll find the right pace and won’t overwork yourself.
Start with some dynamic stretches, where controlled movement improves your range of motion and loosens muscles. Some examples include jumping jacks, leg swings, and lunges. Then, start with a walk or slow jog and work your way up to a full run.
3. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is key to keeping your body loose and preventing muscle strain. It also helps you have more energy and endurance as you exercise, recover faster afterward, and gives you the ability to try longer, more challenging runs.
You’ll want to drink 17–20 fl. oz. about two hours before your run so that your body is hydrated and ready to work out. Then, drink a few more ounces of water every 15-20 minutes. Even on short runs, where you might be able to skip water during exercise, it’s a good idea to carry water with you — especially if it’s hot outside.
For a longer run, consider bringing a sports drink with you instead of water. This will help you replenish your electrolytes and maintain your performance. A sports drink is the most effective option for this.
After your exercise session, get your fluid levels back to normal by drinking more water to replenish any fluids you lost to sweat and breathing. For every pound you lost during running, drink 16-24 ounces of water.
How do you carry water during a run? Many people find water bottles inconvenient, and they can interfere with your stride. Instead, consider a belt you can attach water bottles to or a water backpack.
4. Cool Down After Your Run
Once you are done exercising, it’s important to cool down so your body can return to normal before you continue with your day. You can cool down for as little as five minutes after a short run — longer runs will require a longer cool-down session.
The purpose of cooling down after exercise is to allow your heart rate and breathing to return to normal and promote relaxation. It also moves blood flow from the muscles you use while running to a regular resting pattern. If you stop abruptly, blood can pool in your muscles and cause dizziness, and your recovery time can be much longer.
After your run, spend five to ten minutes walking briskly and then slowing down to a slow walk. Then, if you have time, do some lunges and stretches such as the Downward Dog or Legs Up the Wall yoga poses.
As you cool down, think about ways to build flexibility and avoid muscle pain as you prepare for your next workout.
5. Take Time to Recover Between Workouts
If you’ve spent a lot of time on the couch in the last several months, you aren’t going to suddenly be able to run every day. Take the time you need to recover before going out on your next adventure.
Don’t increase your training by more than 10 percent a week. If you increase your intensity, say by adding hills, be sure to decrease your mileage accordingly to avoid overloading yourself.
6. Have Fun While Running!
Most importantly, have fun! It’s time to enjoy the fresh air and get moving! Great weather calls all of us to enjoy the outdoors, and running or jogging is a great way to do it. Of course, listen to your body. If you feel any discomfort around your workout, make sure to take time to rest.
The world is full of runners. Runners of all shapes, sizes, and ages. However, most runners are not getting the most out of their running experience. Many fail to understand the importance of proper form and technique in order to prevent injury.
If you still have discomfort after 24- 48 hours, give us a call for a check-up. The world’s top athletes depend on us to keep them running at peak performance. We think you should too!
Dr. Michael Mighton DC, B.Kin