Following these six tips could well be what keeps your running injury-free. You don’t want to be one of the thousands of runners who are under enforced rest due to preventable injuries, so make sure you take the necessary steps that will keep you on your feet.
Stripped to the bare essentials, all a runner really needs is a pair of shoes, and choosing the right pair for your feet can make all the difference to your running. A well fitted, carefully selected, high quality pair of running shoes can help with many of the biggest problems runners face, from high arches and overpronation to blisters and stress fractures. Any good specialist running shop should offer a gait analysis (often free of charge), and expert advice on choosing the shoes that are perfect for you.
Most running injuries are caused by doing too much too soon. It can be easy to go too hard before your body is ready, especially when you’re just starting out, but pacing yourself is important. Your muscles will adapt much faster than your tendons and ligaments can, and your joints might well struggle with the extra stress as well. Try to make sure your total mileage never increases by more than 10% per week.
Warming up and stretching before going for a run will prepare your muscles for what’s ahead, and your times will improve as well. Stretching after a run is also important, not only because exercise shortens your muscles, but also to reduce your recovery time. All this stretching will inevitably make you more supple and flexible, which will also lessen your chances of pulling a muscle.
The gluteus muscles are of vital importance to any runner, with established links between weak glutes and a plethora of common running injuries. These muscles are supposed to keep your body in perfect alignment, keep your hips steady and provide much of the forward driving force when you run, but many athletes still neglect them. Fortunately, there’s plenty of readily available information on simple exercises that will help, so get working on those glutes!
Running on asphalt, or worse still concrete, is a surefire way to destroy your knees. These surfaces are far harder than anything nature intended us to run on, and the modern cushioning technology in your shoes won’t completely eliminate the stress on your joints from the constant pounding on unforgiving roads and sidewalks. Running on grass or dirt trails is the perfect alternative – your knees will thank you, and running through the woods or in a park will also do wonders for your mind and soul.
People ignore this part of training more than any other, even though it requires the least effort! At least one day each week where you do nothing physically demanding, except perhaps a little stretching, is definitely a good idea. It’s when you rest that your body has the chance to recover, repair itself, and get stronger before the next onslaught of exercise. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and staying well-hydrated will also help with your recovery, as well as bringing an array of other health benefits.