The benefits of running far surpass the high so often associated with the act. Running on a regular basis for just 5-10 minutes improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and reduces the risk of many diseases, heart attack and stroke. The mental benefits are just as great as the physical, with many turning to running as a release and a way to clear their minds. It’s also a convenient form of exercise as you can run almost anywhere, and usually year round.
While the list of pro’s go on and on, running can be hard on the body if you’re not taking the appropriate precautions. As you run, your feet strike the ground, sending shock waves through your joints, bones, muscles and ligaments. Going too hard too fast can exacerbate this stress on your body. Learn how to avoid injuries while running, whether you’re training for the upcoming Philadelphia marathon, getting your daily exercise, or even if you’re new to running.
Scope Out Your Running Route
Become familiar with where you’re running before you set out at your regular pace. This is a general rule of thumb for your safety overall, but learning about the terrain can also keep you from unexpected trips, falls, and other incidents that can cause injury.
It’s best to avoid hills if you’re not used to training on hills. If you’re running on a track or curved terrain, be sure to switch directions every lap or so to apply even pressure on both feet.
Running with a friend can also be a good idea in the event that you do suffer an injury and cannot walk yourself.
For those preparing for a marathon, it’s even more crucial to get the lay of the land. It will help you determine what type of terrain to train on. Some marathon routes are very flat, while others include a few inclines.
Get a Good Stretch In
Plan a warm up and cool down before and after your run. Think of it as a part of your run. Stretching is an integral part of your workout routine and failure to do so is an injury waiting to happen. Your joints and muscles need preparation before jumping into exercise, and the flexibility that comes along with stretching will help you perform better.
The best way to get started with any warm up is to mimic the activity slowly. So start with a fast walk or a slow jog to work all the same muscles you’re about to be using for your run. After your warm up, further prepare your muscles with a few stretches. Bend down for toe touches and hold for 10-20 seconds to feel the stretch within your hamstrings. Holding lunges for 10-20 seconds is another beneficial stretch for runners.
If you’re new to running, your warm up routine will be longer than those who are more limber from running regularly.
Allow Old Injuries to Heal
One of the most common injuries people experience while running is the flare up of a previous injury. You’re using almost all your body parts when you run, so if one part isn’t healthy, you’ll feel it. Running with an old injury will be uncomfortable, painful, and could make it much worse. It may also make you unstable which could lead to other injuries.
If you’re dealing with pain where you had a previous injury, visit an orthopaedic doctor before you run or exercise. They will be able to diagnose the pain you’re experiencing, provide treatment options, and you’ll be back to a healthy run rather than aggravating an injury.
The importance of hydration is stressed for all types of exercise and running is no exception. A hydrated body is the most healthy, but you’ll need to consume even more water when you’re running. The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons suggest that runners should drink 10 to 15 ounces of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to running and every 20 to 30 minutes along their route. They also believe you should weigh yourself before and after a run, and drink one pint of fluid for every pound lost.
Electrolytes - the electrically-charged minerals like sodium, potassium and calcium, that keep all the systems of the body functioning - are lost when sweating from running. Replenish them by adding sodium chloride to your diet with healthy foods, salty chips or pretzels, and sports drinks.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you get the motivation to workout and head out for a run. If you’re setting out for a marathon in the near future, check out this blog dedicated to marathon training tips. Rothman Orthopaedics is excited for the Philadelphia Marathon and wishes all those participating a successful and safe run.
If you’re in need of an orthopaedic physician, make an appointment here.
Rothman Orthopaedic Institute’s Sports Medicine team is the leading provider of sports medicine orthopaedic care in the region. Our team provides care for all levels of athletes including the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Soul, USA Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team, Villanova University, Saint Joseph’s University, Rutgers University-Camden Raptors and dozens of regional high schools as well as the Philadelphia Marathon, Distance Run, and International Cycling Race.