Improving your speed and distance makes people fall in love with running. It’s an empowering exercise, but you can also hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. These eight easy tips will show you how to prevent running injuries.
With a little extra thought and mindfulness, you’ll avoid setbacks and chronic pain. It could make the difference between training for a bucket-list marathon or giving up on an exercise that brings you joy.
1. Take Rest Days
Be proud of yourself when you jog for two or three days in a row, but don’t forget to take rest days too. Your muscles need time to mend tissue and recover. Relaxing helps your body avoid stress fractures and muscle tears that could happen if you overexert yourself.
Take advantage of your rest days. Stay hydrated and eat healthy nightly snacks so your body gets the fuel it needs. When you get back to your workout routine, you’ll feel energized and ready to chase your fitness goals.
2. Buy New Shoes
Running shoes provide arch support and traction, which make every run more comfortable. If you haven’t bought new shoes in a while and you log miles in the double-digits every week, your worn out pair could change your gait. Those changes affect everything from how your feet land to back pain. Find new shoes and ensure they fit properly, then replace them after 300-500 miles.
3. Consider Your Running Surfaces
Slamming your heels into concrete or wobbling your way across soft grass is terrible for your body. The ideal running surface absorbs the shock of each step. Create a route that uses dirt trails whenever possible and watch for new aches or pains. Your body will have to adapt to the changing surfaces. You could experience strange knee pain or ankle aches for a day or two after the switch.
4. Never Skip Warm Ups
When you sit for eight hours during the workday or sleep through the night, your muscles tighten even if you don’t have a limited range of motion. Skipping warm ups immediately puts intense strain on those fibers and increases the chance of injuries.
Warm up for a few minutes before each run. Dynamic stretches improve your flexibility and comfort before or after your workout. Use them even during your rest days to assist your recovery. You’ll benefit from additional flexibility and feel ready to tackle longer runs.
5. Land on Flat Feet
The next time you walk or jog, notice how you land on your feet. You might naturally land on your heels, but that can lead to intense running injuries like shin splints. Instead, focus on how your feet land. Hit the ground mid-sole or flat footed by focusing on your feet and using shorter strides.
Renewed focus will revitalize your runs and even make treadmill running more interesting if you’re bored with indoor jogs. It’s never a bad time or place to adjust your footwork and protect yourself from injuries.
6. Watch Your Posture
After the first mile or two, you might start to slouch. Leaning forward collapses your lungs and makes it harder to breathe. Your muscles won’t get the oxygen they need to compensate for your speed and distance. It takes longer for them to recover and you may experience dizziness before you get home.
During even your shortest runs, maintain proper running posture by keeping tension out of your neck and shoulders. Stand straight and loosen your arms. A quick posture change could end the aches you currently feel after a run.
7. Hold Your Head High
Make sure your head doesn’t tilt forward when you jog. It places strain on your spine and leads to chest compression. Face forward and hold your head high to conquer any jog without pain. It’s best to keep your eyes ten to twenty feet in front of you instead of on your feet. You’ll always see what’s coming and improve your posture.
8. Monitor Your Surroundings
When you get in the zone, it’s easy to forget about your surroundings. Watch for cars, pedestrians and anything else that you might find on your usual route. You could trip on new construction or get injured at a crosswalk. Sometimes the simplest ways to prevent an accident are the most important to remember.
Rethink Your Runs
Anyone can prevent running injuries if they use tips like these to rethink their routines. Watch how you run, observe your environment and don’t push yourself too hard. They’re easy ways to get started with injury prevention and see better results.