Many may think running is the easiest form of exercise. But did you know that runners get injured almost as frequently as football players? Running seems rather straightforward, but it can lead to serious injuries if you don’t have proper training, warm-up exercises, and the right shoes for your feet.
So before you lace up your shoes and head outside for a run, here are five tips to help prevent yourself from getting running injuries:
Before you begin stretching, you should always start off with a good warm-up that lasts between 10 to 15 minutes. This will help flush out built-up lactic acid in your muscles and help prevent delayed muscle soreness.
Begin your warm-up with a gentle three to five-minute walk, followed by a five-minute combination of walking and running. Once you’ve completed the five-minute run to walk ratio, increase your speed gradually into a slow run for another five minutes. This allows your body to loosen up at a gradual pace without straining your muscles.
Stretching should always be an important component of any runner’s routine. Runners tend to be tight in areas such as the hamstring and calf muscles. If you don’t stretch properly, it’s easy for you to get injured in and around those areas.
There are two types of stretching you should do before running: static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is when you hold a stretch without moving your body, while dynamic stretching is when you move your body throughout the stretch. For a runner’s routine, you should avoid static stretching because it relaxes the muscles instead of preparing them for running.
Instead, opt for more dynamic stretches. You can do deep lunges by stepping forward in a long stride and then dropping your back leg down towards the ground. It’s important to make sure your front knee stays parallel to your foot during a lunge. Also, don’t forget your hip muscles. Stand with your feet apart and rotate your hip in circles 10 times in both directions.
Once you feel like your body is loose, you can begin your run — start off with a slow pace.
Strength training improves a runner’s body strength and keeps the body properly aligned while running. You should focus on your core and hip muscles during your strength training. By strengthening the hips, which includes your abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus, you increase the stability of your legs all the way down to your ankles. This will help prevent future knee and back injuries. Strength training also reduces muscle fatigue, avoiding poor running performance and injuries.
Wear the Right Shoes
Shoes are the most important piece of equipment you need for running. What you wear matters, as not all running shoes are made alike. The type of shoes you need will depend on your foot type and your style of running. Going to a sports store that specializes in athletic footwear can help you figure out what style will work best for you.
Rotating between two or three different pairs of running shoes is also a good idea. Each shoe will change your biomechanics, like your head position, stride length, and how your arms move while running. Rotating shoes helps reduce the repetitive stress that can lead to running injuries. You should also consider replacing your shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
Build Mileage Gradually
The number one cause of running injuries is when runners try to do too much, too soon, too fast. Your body needs time to adapt to the stress running can bring. It’s important to know your body’s limit, making sure that every workout is something you can handle — not something that’ll strain your body. Progress takes time. As you slowly build up the amount of training you do, you can begin to boost up the intensity.