Running is a great way to work some exercise into your day. It offers numerous benefits, like burning calories, building strong bones, strengthening muscles, improving cardiovascular fitness, and maintaining a healthy weight. Running is a great way to get out and about, especially for people who work from home.
Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned runner, there are some things to keep in mind to avoid injury while running. We’ve put together some tips to keep you happy, healthy, and fit.
Strength training is a beneficial way to prepare for any sort of running. Whether you just like to get out for a light jog every now and again or you’re training for a marathon, strength training can help to prevent injury. Sadly, many runners do not use weight training or are not even aware that weight training can be beneficial.
Here’s the thing — when you run, you are literally hitting the pavement. With each strike of your foot against the ground, your foot absorbs a small shock. This energy wears on your muscles as you run. The longer you run, the more other muscles get involved to help compensate. Long runs can exert your muscles more than they are used to, and this is when your body can become susceptible to injury.
The good news is that the more you run, the more you develop muscle endurance and strength. That said, it may not be enough. Augmenting your running routine with some strength training can give your muscles the extra boost they need to take you as far as you’d like to go without causing injury.
Start with two to three days of strength training each week to help your body accommodate the shock absorption of running. In just a few weeks, you should notice that your muscles may not tire as quickly and you may be able to run faster, farther, and for longer periods of time.
There have been hundreds of articles written about whether or not you should stretch, whether your stretching session should occur before or after your run and if stretching itself may cause injury. There’s an opinion for every day of the week.
Here’s what is known: lack of flexibility can cause injury. When your muscles are tight, you’re more susceptible to injury. Considering all the muscles it takes to run — calves, quadriceps, lats, glutes, adductors, IT bands — it is essential to keep them loose. Tight muscles can cause a lot of issues. For one, some runners experience slight external rotation when their foot lands while sprinting. When this occurs, it can negatively impact the groin (strain), hip flexors (pulled), and lower back.
In addition to injury, lack of flexibility and tight muscles can simply inhibit you from reaching your full potential as a runner. Without the right level of flexibility, some of the mechanics behind running simply won’t work. Running requires proper form in order to go as fast as possible. Without that proper form, other muscles must chip in and compensate for other muscles that are not engaged. Those muscles will eventually get tired of working harder than the other and give out, which can lead to muscular injuries.
There are different ways to stretch to keep muscles from getting too tight. Consider the following:
Avoid stretching cold muscles; consider stretching after a run rather than before
You may stretch lightly before your run if you are doing speed work, but do so after a 10-minute warm-up jog
Avoid bouncing or pushing too hard while stretching
When stretching before fast runs, hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds
When stretching after runs, hold each stretch for 30 seconds
It’s always good to check-in with your doctor about the best ways to prevent injury when running or doing any exercise. Going in for a physical exam can ensure that you are fit and healthy enough to run. Also, your primary care doctor can assess any areas of concern, preventing more serious injuries from occurring. Your doctor may also be able to help you plan a well-balanced diet that will provide the fuel you need to reach your running goals, stay strong, and avoid injuries.
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