Tips to keep you healthy and safe while running
Running is one of the best exercises you can incorporate into your routine. It gets your heart rate up, builds strength and endurance and is easy to do anywhere at any time. With all the gorgeous trails and fun races in Lake Nona, it’s never been easier to get outside and exercise.
Running is a relatively safe activity. Most injuries don’t come out of nowhere, but instead result from over-exercising and ignoring the warning signs your body gives you. By following the tips below, you can help ensure your running is an enjoyable, pain-free experience.
Top 5 No-Nos for Runners
Going Too Far Too Soon or Too Fast
Doing too much is generally how most running injuries occur. To protect yourself, follow the 10 percent rule by adding no more than 10 percent in distance to your run each week. So, if you run 10 miles in week one, week two might go up to 11 miles, week three up to 12 miles, etc. This rule is just a maximum suggestion. Listen to your body. Adding 10 percent one week may be too much for you.
Also, resist the need for speed. Be the tortoise, not the hare. Your body will naturally get faster with time.
If you are just getting started and are not currently doing any running or jogging, start with a 4-minute walk and 1-minute jog routine for 15-20 minutes and do that every other day. Increase your time by about 5 minutes every week. After you are comfortable doing this for 30 minutes, you can up the jog time by one minute while decreasing the walk time by one minute.
Improper Stretching of Tight Muscles After a Run
Don’t over stretch your tight muscles. Instead, to relieve muscle tightness, which can occur days after a run, one option is to try massaging the tissues with a foam roller to decrease stress on the quadriceps, hamstrings, IT bands, piriformis and calf muscles.
To do this, you can purchase a foam roller at most athletic supply stores. It looks like a short, thicker pool noodle. Then, using your body weight, start by moving the roller along the achy muscles. Go slowly, and when you find a tender spot, hold it for 20 seconds then move on. There are many videos online that can show you proper technique.
To build endurance on your runs, it’s important to build mileage progressively. However, that does not mean running every day. Cross-training (swimming, cycling, elliptical) and strength training are essential to work different muscle groups. Combining running with other exercise will decrease your risk of overuse injuries by making your muscles stronger for your runs. And you still get the health benefits of running when you do so every other day.
Not Wearing the Right Shoes
Everyone’s foot is unique. The right shoe is one that supports your foot best. It should be snug but not tight while allowing room to move your toes. If you feel any pinching or rubbing while trying on the shoes in the store, that discomfort will be amplified during your run. Visit a specialty running store for the best fit advice. Never buy shoes based on marketing promises to make you run faster, or only because you like the look. Shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles. To help you keep track, note when you buy your shoes and compare it against your running log (either through fitness apps or your best guess).
Not Listening to Your Body
Sometimes runners will try to run through the pain. But when you do that, you adjust your gait to compensate for the pain. The adjustment wreaks havoc on your body. If you feel pain during your run, stop immediately. Don’t push through it. Doing so will result in injuries that take months instead of days to heal. Some common types of running pain include:
Pain that always occurs at the same time during the run (i.e., after the first mile).
- Pain that increases during a run and makes you stop.
- Joint swelling the day after you run
- Pain the next day that significantly affects your mobility.
If you experience pain that does not go away in a day or two after you take a break from running, make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. These doctors are specialty trained to diagnose injuries in athletes and can offer customized treatment that keeps your goals in mind.
UCF Health is the College of Medicine’s physician practice, offering primary and specialty care to the community. Its newest office is located in Lake Nona at the corner of Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Visit UCFHealth.com for more information, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.