The weather’s awakened that urge in you to get outside and get in motion. But before you lace up your running shoes, listen to a sports medicine physician’s advice on keeping yourself healthy and pain-free as you take to the road.
Your body knows. The internet abounds with running programs. “But everyone needs to listen to their own bodies,” says Kim Fagan, MD, with Fagan Sports Medicine in Birmingham. “So if your body’s screaming that your ankle or knee hurts, then modify your running program,” she says, no matter where you got it.
If it hurts. ”Take a few days off from running,” says Dr. Fagan. “Keep up the aerobic activities — go on a stationary bike or get in the pool. Then go back to running at a lesser mileage and start to rebuild again.” If you go through this cycle a couple of times, and you still have pain, get it checked out.
Buy bigger running shoes! “One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in running is getting the same size running shoes as their regular shoes. Think at least one size larger,” says Dr. Fagan.
Longer strides are not better. Over-striding (taking longer strides to gain speed) really sets you up for running injuries, says Dr. Fagan. It creates more torque in the hips and pelvis. “If you want to run faster, then move your feet faster.”
Pre-run stretching is a myth. “Nothing shows that stretching before running helps, unless you have a specific injury you’re working with,” says Dr. Fagan. “Warming up before running is very good for you, though. Start out walking or run at a really, really slow pace for about 3 to 5 minutes to get the muscles warmed up.”
Post-run stretching good! “The time to stretch is after the run when everything is tightened up and more likely to cramp,” says Dr. Fagan. “When you’re running, a lot of contraction is going on in the muscles. Stretching elongates that muscle and allows it to relax again and stretch back out.”
Dr. Fagan adds, “If you haven’t run before, don’t let the ego get in the way,” says Dr. Fagan. “It’s OK to start with a walk/jog program. There’s no shame in that.” The point, after all, is exercise, not injury.
by Jane Ehrhardt
This article written and brought to you by BirminghamDoctors.com.