Running is the exercise of choice for many individuals looking to lose weight, get fit or boost their health and well-being. In fact, as well as burning more calories than any other popular exercise, running is free so no need to shell out on extortionate gym memberships! However, running isn’t as easy as putting one foot in front of the other…
Without the right preparation, fitness equipment, technique and recovery strategy, runners can become plighted with injuries. Here we take a look at how both amateur and seasoned runners can reach their fitness goals without the risk of injury.
Start out on the right foot
Whilst many may think running only requires two legs, investing in the right footwear is a vital step towards reducing the risk of injury. Running shoes offer flexible support with every step, and having the shoes fitted to your exact foot type will prevent avoidable injuries such as blisters, nail damage, poor foot function and disrupted muscle balance. When choosing running shoes, listen to your body to find a pair that fit properly and feel comfortable.
Take it easy
Make running an enjoyable experience minus the injury by slowly easing yourself into a fitness regime. Start each session with a warm-up of at least five minutes, using quick walking, marching, knee lifts or side steps to prepare your body for the run ahead. Combine this with light stretching to ensure your muscles are fully prepared and safeguarded against injury.
When it comes to the run, ease yourself into this slowly, increasing your pace and distance over several sessions. It is recommended that you walk for a period of time first until you are fully comfortable.
Adopt the right technique
Everyone can run right? Wrong! Running in the wrong manner is the most common cause of injury and adopting a tried and tested technique will ensure your body is able to cope should you choose to ramp up the pace, distance or frequency of your sessions. Running the right way is all about posture; keep your head straight when running, keep your shoulders and hands relaxed, and never lift your knees too high.
It is also important to keep your hips as stable as possible during your run to prevent lower back pain and hip injury. When running, keep it light as hitting the ground too hard can put unnecessary pressure on your joints. Breathe deeply through the nose or mouth, avoiding shallow and irregular breaths.
Know how to ‘warm down’
As well as warming up for a run it is important to warm down to aid faster recovery and prevent injuries. In addition to taking some time to stretch immediately after exercise, enlisting a physiotherapist’s help will ensure you avoid the nasty side effects that go hand in hand with running. For more information click here.
Sports massage is a particularly effective treatment for regular runners, and making this a part of your training regime will reduce muscle soreness, prevent muscle stiffness, provide that all-important pain relief, improve posture and allow for faster recovery or rehabilitation.