Running is wonderful for getting and staying in shape, but all too often people don’t get to experience its benefits because an injury occurs before they can realize them. Not only can damaging your muscles, joints or bones keep you from running for fitness, but it could also sideline other healthy activities as well.
To avoid hurting yourself when you’re actually trying to help yourself get healthy, there are certain guidelines you should follow. Here are five of them that will keep you running strong (and injury free):
#1: Vary your intensity – If you run as fast as you can every day, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’re going to damage your muscles and joints due to overworking them. So, vary your intensity by taking some slower runs in between the more strenuous ones so that your body doesn’t become overwhelmed.
#2: Take different paths – Just as continuously training at a high intensity can hurt you, so too can training on the same surfaces day after day. To change things up, alternate between dirt and paved paths. Each one stresses your body in different ways so you’re not likely to overdo it if you aren’t on the same surface time and time again.
#3: Don’t forget to warm up – A lot of injuries occur when muscles aren’t properly warmed up before hitting the trails. Start with some walking or slow jogging so that you don’t strain cold leg muscles and joints.
#4: Wear proper shoes – If you don’t have the right support for your feet, your risk of injury increases dramatically. Take the time (and money) to get fitted for footwear that gives your arches the proper support and you’ll be able to run farther than ever.
#5: Stop if it hurts – The old mentality of “no pain, no gain” is gone. While a little bit of discomfort is normal when you’re pushing your body, if what you feel is outright pain, then it is time to stop. Try elevating and icing the problem area, but don’t be afraid to seek medical attention if it’s severe pain or your home care isn’t working.
Follow these five rules and you’ll reduce your risk of injury while running. After all, to hurt yourself when trying to get healthy would only defeat the purpose, right?