Love it or hate it, everybody knows that running is one of the best workouts that a person can do. The benefits it provides are incredible and try as you might, you’d be hard-pressed to find another exercise that gives you the same benefits. From promoting weight loss to preventing disease, running every day is a great way to stay healthy, relieve stress, and even help with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. There’s no question that running is one of the best ways to develop and maintain overall physical wellness.
As great as running is, it doesn’t come without a few drawbacks. For example, there are a list of common injuries that runners often suffer from as a direct result of their healthy habit. From runner’s knee to shin splints and more, runners can suffer from some pretty painful and serious injuries. Some of them are unpreventable (such as slipping and falling or twisting an ankle), but most of them are preventable with the right training. In an effort to help you run safely, here are several tips to help you run safely and without injuring yourself.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
Stretching is one of the most important aspects of physical wellness, but it’s also one of the most neglected. In fact, most of the most common injuries that athletes suffer from are directly caused by a lack of flexibility. Running is no exception to this. Stretching will do more to prevent injury than almost anything else. So before your run, take five minutes or so to stretch your hamstrings and quads. And after you’ve finished, be sure to stretch for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to make sure that your muscles are adequately stretched. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later when you avoid a serious injury!
Add Strength Training to Your Workout Plan
Most runners neglect strength training, as they believe that extra muscle will do nothing but slow them down. That is an unfortunate and potentially dangerous mindset to have. Adding strength training to your workout program will allow you to run with greater stability, which will in turn help you to avoid getting injured as you run. Not only that, it will allow you to run more efficiently and, when done correctly, will even help you to run faster. What’s more, you can do your strength training while you run. By running through the mountains or on a treadmill with incline, you can get in your running for the day while strengthening the core muscle groups that will help to stabilize you and prevent injury.
Know and Respect Your Limits
One of the most dangerous things that a runner can do is to try to work themselves beyond their limit. It can be tempting to work too hard and cross your limit, but once you do, it is likely that you will get injured. When your body is fatigued, it can be dangerous, as you can suffer from dehydration, heat exhaustion, hyperextension, sprained or rolled ankles, and other injuries. Many runners work themselves over their limits because they sign up for races or running evens that they haven’t adequately prepared for. For example, if you have never run more than ten miles and sign up for a half marathon, you’ll definitely be tempted to finish it. However, once you pass the ten mile mark, you risk suffering from any of the aforementioned injuries. It’s best to call it a day, train properly, and tackle it the next time.
Shorten Your Stride
Many runners (rightfully) believe that the longer their stride, the faster they’ll go. After all, a longer stride means you’re covering more ground with each step. And while it can have some benefits, it definitely has some drawbacks that can prove dangerous: the longer your stride, the more pressure you put on your knees, ankles, and legs. Over time, running with a long stride can cause damage to your joints by wearing down the cartilage or damage your bones by causing stress fractures. As appealing as it may sound to lengthen your stride, it’s definitely best to keep it short—you have more control that way and you significantly reduce your chances of suffering from a potentially serious injury.