Whether you’re an avid runner or a newbie, there are things you can do to prevent injury and improve your performance. Providence Sports Medicine provides expert care for runners at all experience levels and offers these tips to help you enjoy running throughout your life.
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Five important things all runners should do:
- Stay hydrated: Drink water before and after you run to prevent cramping and to help improve muscle recovery. You’ll know you’re properly hydrated if your urine is light yellow and not dark.
- Warm up: Get your body ready to go. Walk for a few minutes or do some dynamic warm-up activities before you run.
- Stretch: After your run, stretching for a few minutes will ease your muscles and help your body recover.
- Wear proper clothing: It’s a good idea to wear reflective clothing in fabrics that wick away sweat. Avoid cotton – it can cause chafing, especially when wet.
- Listen to your body: If running causes pain or soreness that doesn’t go away, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist. You may have a more serious injury that can get worse if not addressed early. A running analysis from a sports physical therapist may also help make running more enjoyable and keep you in top form.
Simple tips for the beginning runner:
- Create a running routine: Schedule time to run and commit to it. If you only run when it’s convenient, it may never become a priority.
- Know you’ll be a little sore: General soreness is normal when you start a new running program. Give your body time to get used to running, but know the difference between general soreness and significant pain.
- Remember that recovery is as important as the run: Hydration, diet, sleep and stress management can all impact your running performance. How you spend your time when you’re not running contributes to your success as an athlete.
Advanced tips to elevate your running performance:
- Variety is good but be prepared: Changing your regular running route can be stimulating and beneficial. Add variety by choosing routes that make you alter your speed and that offer elevation changes as well as different running surfaces, like sidewalks, grass, dirt, sand, athletic tracks or artificial turf. But be prepared for the physical challenges different routes and surfaces can throw in your path.
- Push yourself – within reason: It’s fulfilling to push yourself toward goals and add to your training regimen, especially when you’re a new runner. However, be mindful of big spikes in your mileage and pace – those spikes can increase your risk of injury, at any experience level.
- Be strong to run long: Your body will handle the demands of running better if you do strengthening exercises. Do resistance exercises one to two times a week after you run to keep your muscles and joints strong and resilient, and to build muscular endurance.
Six common overuse conditions:
Runners run the risk of developing overuse injuries. Here are some of the most typical issues and what to watch for:
- IT band syndrome
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Knee pain
- Hip pain