Fitness Guide: How To Run Without Injuring Yourself?

Have you ever ran for miles together, with the wind blowing on your face, feeling each beat of your heart and every breath in your lungs as you grasp for air and all thoughts in your brain melt away as you focus on your stride? 

Many take up running to get leaner, some for supporting a good cause or some simply take it up as a health measure. Although running has many benefits, it can also cause injuries because of its repetitive nature especially in novice runners who have just begin running. This article explores ways of preventing such injuries especially at a time when this revolutionary way of keeping fit is being adopted by so many.

How to begin running?

Running can feel daunting at first. Especially if one tries to run too fast, too soon. Beginners should not worry about the speed or distance while running. Try running for short periods of time interspersed with walking so that you don’t feel like the wind has been knocked out of you. For example, walking for 5 minutes and then running for 1 minute in a cycle till you complete half an hour is a good way to begin. Repeat this for a week and then gradually increase the time that you run and reduce the walking time keeping the total time the same, i.e. 30 minutes. Move forward from there.

How important is good running form?

Form follows function. A good running form is the best way to avoid running injuries. From head to toe, try following the guidelines below-

1)Keep your head upright with the gaze on the horizon or 4 blocks away and not on the ground

2)Keep your shoulders relaxed and refrain from tensing or elevating them as you run

3)Maintain a loose fist with the thumb pointed up and the arms moving back and forth without moving to the sides and not crossing the midline of the body

4)Lean slightly forward from the ankle as if you are falling to the ground with an erect, tall posture

5) Keep your core engaged as you run and maintain a neutral spine

6)Ensure good hip mobility so that you engage those glutes allowing them to extend your hip and propel you forward

7)Make sure that the knees don’t collapse inwards 

8)Barefoot running is all the rage now because it promotes landing on the midfoot or the forefoot area but barefoot or with shoes, try not to land on the heels 

9)Lastly, your foot should land under your body so as to prevent over striding

How should I prep before running?

Performing a proper warm up and cool down pre and post running respectively is a must.

Warm up exercises should include dynamic stretches and activation exercises of the muscles which will be subsequently used in running namely the glutes(Maximus and medius),quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Cool down routine can consist of static stretches and foam rolling.

In addition to these one must do strength training( especially unilateral exercises)  and plyometric exercises(jumps) because your muscles need to be sufficiently strong to sustain a load of as much as 5-12 times the body weight occurring during running.

How often should I run and how much should I progress per week?

Running shouldn’t be done every day. Alternate it with other training forms like cycling and swimming. At the same time, running just once a week has also been shown to increase the risk of injuries. The running weekly volume (distance covered) shouldn’t be increased more than 5-10% each progressive week to avoid injuries because this allows a gradual adaptation of the body to sustain the demands of running. 

What if I get injured?

Too often people ignore niggles and continue running, pushing themselves through the pain. This leads to a small niggle turn into a full blown injury. Thus, in the event of an injury one must seek a doctor (preferably a physiotherapist or an orthopedic) immediately so as to assess what’s wrong and mend it.

Thus, with these tips in your kitty, you will run like a dream. And too soon running will no longer be your hobby. It will be a lifestyle.

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