Now that the weather is (finally) getting nicer, why not head outside for a run? While many people consider running to be an enjoyable form of exercises, others often express how running seems to coincide with pain. We have come up with 5 tips that will help prevent you from getting pain while you run and hopefully begin to enjoy running more!
1. New Shoes
The first step to running pain free is making sure you are wearing the appropriate shoes. Many people who have not run for a while go into their closet, put on their 10-year-old shoes and head out for a run. Unfortunately, it is common those shoes will be very worn out particularly on the sole. It is important if you are running for the first time in a while or the first time ever that you check the soles of your shoes. You should check for excessive wearing on the sole specifically near the ball of your feet, your arch and the outside of your foot. If you find any signs of wear and tear, simply head to a local running store and their employees will help fit you for new and proper fitting running shoes!
A great way to prevent injuries is to stay hydrated. Hydration better prepares your muscles for exercise which will aid in preventing injuries. While there are many articles out there that provide specifics on exactly how much water you should be drinking before a run and how early you should be drinking this water. Most people do not wake up, measure out their water intake and follow a strict drinking schedule prior to running (but kudos to you if you are). From experience, we have learned that the easiest way to hydrate before you run is simply to simply drink water consistently. What do we mean by this? Well, if you plan to run during your lunch break you should be taking sips of water regularly throughout the morning. This will ensure you are properly hydrated and will reduce the likelihood that you will be fatigued or get a cramp while you run!
Now that you are hydrated and have a nice new set of shoes, it’s time to get your muscles ready for exercise. Prior to running it is most important to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps as those are the main muscles used while running. Warming up your muscles ensures they are better equipped at handling the stressors placed on them during exercise and therefore helps to prevent injury. Here are a few stretches that you could incorporate before you head out for a run!
Another common way people get injured is attempting to run too fast, too hard and too soon. When this occurs, their muscles are often unable to cope with the increased demands and as a result they develop an injury. When beginning a run it is important that you start off easy. The best way to accomplish this is the walk/run technique. In this technique you begin your run by a set time of walking followed by a set time of running then repeat this for as long as you desire. For example, you could walk for 1 minute, then run/jog for 1 minute and repeat this sequence 10 times (20 minutes total). This ensures your body can gradually adjust to the demands of exercise, decreasing the likelihood an injury will occur!
5. Strengthen Muscles
We all have those days when we do not feel like going outside for a run. Whether its weather related, time-related or something else, trust me we have all been there! Since its still important to exercise, you can incorporate some simple strength routines into those days where you don’t run. Strength routines that target your glutes, low back, hamstrings, or quadriceps are ideal if you often experience pain during or after running. Injuries occur when muscles are weak, and they are unable to manage the increased demands from running. So stronger muscles = less injuries!
At Bloor Park Physiotherapy, we can create a custom strength and stretching program for you whether you’re an experienced runner or just starting out. Book in for an initial assessment with one of our physiotherapists to help you with your running journey.