Running is a great way to exercise and stay in shape. But it’s also a really good way to get hurt if you’re doing it wrong. To prevent running injuries, follow these six simple steps:
- Avoid the terrible too’s. Many running injuries are a result of doing too much – too much intensity, too many miles, too soon. Be careful when adding mileage or intensity to your training. Avoid increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent each week.
- Treat your feet right. Be sure that your shoes aren’t worn out and that you have the right model for your feet and running style. Go to a running shop for a gait analysis (you run on a treadmill to determine your specific needs). Buy properly fitted shoes and replace them every 300 to 400 miles.
- Switch surfaces. Vary your running surfaces to improve your strength and balance. Do some trail running. Run on asphalt or at a track. Avoid concrete surfaces if possible. If you frequently run the same route on a road, reverse your direction every other run to adjust for any slant in the road.
- Be sure to stretch. Before your run, warm up and gently stretch for 5-10 minutes to increase blood flow to your muscles. After your run, cool down and stretch for 5-10 minutes. This will reduce soreness by removing lactic acid from your muscles.
- Move more muscles. Mix up your fitness routine. Try swimming, biking or some other activity. This will help prevent overuse injuries that commonly occur when you do the same type of exercise over and over again.
- Remember rest days. The repetitive nature of running results in pounding on the joints of your ankles, knees and hips with each stride. Allow a few days off during the week to give your joints the rest they need to heal from the repetitive pounding.
Talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program. It’s also important to see your doctor if you’re injured and still feeling pain after a week of rest.