Anyone who has ever suffered a running injury can tell you that a pulled hamstring, twisted ankle or shin split can be extremely debilitating. Running injuries cost time and money to manage and some can result in chronic pain. Take these five helpful tips with you the next time you hit the track.
1. Stretch, but not too much
This is a huge mistake for many first-time runners. Overstretching before going running can lead to early exertion on your joints and muscles, which then can be exacerbated even more during your actual run. Try to save deep lunges, butterfly holds and hamstring pulls for your post-run routine. Before your run, these moves can actually do more harm than good. Instead, do some light stretching, such as wall stretches for your calf muscles or knee-to-chest stretches. Then, warm up with a light 3-5 minute gentle walk, followed by a 5 minute run-walk and gradually ease into your run.
2. Run on a level surface
It’s a well-known fact that if you are running in the street, you should always run on the side of the road facing traffic. While many runners do this, they may not realise their constant unbalance. This unbalanced movement over and over can cause hip pain and increase your chances of injury. Consider running on more even surfaces like bike trails, sidewalks, local tracks, stadiums or even treadmills.
3. Purchase running shoes that fit properly
An ill-fitting shoe can be painful and increase your chances of a foot or ankle injury due to poor support. Decrease your risk of injury and find a shoe that fits you well. Many top manufacturers make shoes based on skill-level and running techniques, such as racing, training, track and cross-country. If you fit into one of these categories, consider a shoe made for it. Go to a specialty store for advice, do your research online and try on multiple pairs. And as a general rule of thumb, you should replace your running shoes every 600-900 kilometers.
4. Begin strength training
Having a strong body overall is important to staying limber and healthy while running. Strength training will not only improve the power in your legs and upper body, but more importantly, it tones your core. Your core is where you find all your energy and stability. Without a solid and balanced core, you are more likely to injure yourself. But don’t worry! You don’t need to lift heavy weights and build extreme muscle mass. Just keep your limbs and core strong and active. Consider performing some strengthening exercises before your rest days or during easy days. This will help your body to perform its best.
5. Don’t push it
Don’t run if you are pain. It’s great to have goals and want to work your hardest towards them, but your health is what’s most important. Ease into your workouts, increase intensity slowly and be patient. You can still push your limits, but you need to take a gradual approach. You will accomplish your goals with focus, determination and patience.
Of course, injuries are sometimes unavoidable. If you injure yourself during your next run, remember to use the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Take the time to rest and recover after an injury and don’t try to skip over the process. You will heal in time, but without proper resting time, the recovery process will only be prolonged. Apply a cool therapy to the injury for as long as possible without causing ice burns. A popular product for this is the CoolXChange Compressionand Cooling Gel Bandage, this will protect any damaged tissue. Once done, add compression to the injury to reduce inflammation, products such as the Thermoskin Ankle Support will assist in speeding up the recovery process and provide pain relief. Finally, elevate the injured area to limit the swelling.
Take these necessary steps the next you go running to avoid injury and to ensure you continue towards living a healthy and happy life!