On your mark! Get set! Go!
Not so fast my running buddies.
Have you stretched and warmed up properly? The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies to this scenario. Here are a few tips on how to prepare so you’re not sidelined come race day.
Readying to run
Take time to warm up by taking a brisk walk or doing some dynamic stretches, which are low-intensity movements. Things like walking lunges, straight leg swings, high steps (knees up), or heels up toward your buttocks gradually warm up the muscles and improve your range of motion.
A great time to do static stretching is after your run. Remember your calf muscles, hamstrings, and quads; hold the stretch for about 10-30 seconds but never to the point of pain.
Doing too much of anything too quickly can be a bad thing.
All runners, especially beginners, should give their bodies enough time to heal between runs. Disregarding this advice can lead to a range of injuries, including stress fractures (tiny cracks in the bones of the feet, ankles and lower legs), shin splints (pain along the front of the lower leg), Achilles tendinitis (pain along the back of the leg near the heel) and plantar fasciitis (heel pain). If you regularly run on trails, ankle sprains are another concern.
Listen to your body and don’t buy into the “no pain, no gain” mentality. If you feel pain or stiffness, take a break and don’t push through it. Stretch it out and slow down. Talk to your doctor if the pain continues.
Gradually increase your endurance and build overall muscle strength, both of which will help you in the long run. Add low-impact activities like bicycling, weight training, swimming and hiking to your routine. These activities can help prevent overuse injuries and boost your running performance.Until next time: warm-up, run, stretch and repeat.
Rhonda Zonoozi is an avid runner who favors half marathons. When she’s not on the run, she’s working as an exercise physiologist and a certified health coach at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing.