With the promise of warmer weather and spring fast approaching, many of us have taken up pounding the pavements in a quest to shake the winter cobwebs or get fitter and shape up in time for the summer months.
Some people may be experienced runners, some fair weather runners and others first timers. Regardless of which category you fall into, the advice is still the same. Whilst running can provide many health benefits and can be hugely rewarding, there are a number of precautions to take to avoid injury.
1 Don’t run cold. As tempting as it may be to head straight out the door all pumped up and ready to go full speed ahead into your run, this can quite easily lead to muscle, tendon or joint strains & sprains. Start with a brisk walk for several minutes to bring your body temperature up to promote blood flow to the muscles.
2 Perform a dynamic warm up. Research suggests that static stretching may not be beneficial in preventing injury and may even be counterproductive, however a dynamic warm up is far more effective. These are controlled movements to improve range of motion, increase the heart rate, body temperature and blood flow. Examples of these can involve side stepping/weave stepping for 20 meters, skipping 20 meters, running with high knees, running with heels to bottom or running backwards until you feel sufficiently loosened off, ready to get going.
3 Start slowly. After a light jog, start to lengthen your stride but without over-extending, gradually accelerating for about 100 meters, then decelerate and repeat the process a few times.
4 Invest in a new pair of trainers or running shoes. Running with worn out footwear can put greater strain through your feet which can have a knock on effect to your knees, hips and back as well as causing muscular imbalances. It is generally recommended you replace your shoes every 300-500 miles and make sure they’re a good fit.
5 Listen to your body. If you feel like you’re over doing it and are in pain then slow down or walk. If the pain doesn’t subside within a few minutes then it may be best not to continue running. Running through pain is quite likely to lead to injury. Know your limits by testing your optimum threshold. The key is not to do too much, too soon or too fast so as not to cause self-inflicted injuries. Upping your run by 10% each time is a good way to test your limits and progress in a way your body can handle.
Don’t forget to also keep well hydrated but most importantly, enjoy yourself!
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