5 Tips On Running Healthy and Remaining Free Of Injuries

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running healthy

Peak performance and running healthy go hand in hand. Running is an ideal exercise. It builds strength and endurance, the equipment needs can be minimal and it can even have the added benefit of reducing stress by getting you out in nature. But, it’s not a zero-risk workout; in a recent survey, two-thirds of runners said that they’d been injured in the last year. I have been running (mostly jogging and walking now) for many years, and so far, haven’t had a major injury. I don’t attribute that to mere luck. I have always used best practices in running healthy. You too, can cut down on your risk of getting hurt while you run with the strategies below:

Running Healthy: Pick The Right Footwear

running healthy

Today’s running shoes offer a wider range of styles than ever before. Shoes are lighter weight and breathe better for comfort. There is no one shoe that is going to be the best choice for every runner. Some people like a lot of support, others prefer thin, light shoes that mimic barefoot running. But, you should always ensure that your shoes fit properly to reduce your risk of injury. Snug and properly fitting shoes with adequate support for the bottom of your feet are crucial for healthy running. Go to a running shoe store and have a trained associate measure your feet to get the best fit.

Running Healthy: Warm Up and Stretch First

running healthy

Based on my own experience, the most important factor in running healthy and reducing the chances of injury is adequate warm-up and stretching. Proper warm-up and stretching makes your muscles more elastic and less prone to painful strains and tears. Warm-up – a little walking and jogging in place – should take between five and 10 minutes and come before stretching. Once you have warmed up, spend several minutes getting a good stretch. Be sure to concentrate some time on the backs of your calves, quadriceps, and the front portions of your upper legs, which are particularly vulnerable to injury.

Running Healthy: Listen to Your Body

running healthy

Some devout athletes believe in the saying: “No pain, no gain.” This is a mistake. A little soreness can occur while running healthy. But many runners are tempted to try to push through pain during a run. This is a big mistake. Pain is a signal that something is not right. Ignoring it can lead to more painful and serious injuries, such as muscle tears, hairline fractures, and other injuries.

Running Healthy: Be Aware of the Terrain

running healthy

If at all possible, pick a running route that is flat, level and free of rocks, twigs and debris. Check local reviews online of paved trails and tracks that are open to the public. If you live in a hilly area or prefer running on wooded trails, scan the ground ahead for obstacles that can land under your feet and possibly twist an ankle. If you are running on the street, whenever possible, run on the pavement or grass, instead of the sidewalk. Grass and pavement are softer surfaces than the cement sidewalk, and therefore lessens the pounding force on the joints.  Regardless as to what type of terrain you run on, it is also important to use proper running techniques. Proper running techniques contributes to healthy running. More will be discussed about proper running techniques in a future post.

Running Healthy: Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard

running healthy

As an athlete and former coach, I have probably gotten carried away at times with pushing myself or my players “too hard.” But, that’s just the way I am. It has always been important to me to do my best in whatever I do. It just makes me feel better about myself. However, there comes a time when we must all use common sense. Don’t over do it. Slow and steady doesn’t just win the race; it gives you the most benefit with the least risk of injury. Go for longer, slower runs instead of sprints that can put excess stress on your body. Every runner has a level of distance and intensity that is too much; learn what your limits are, and increase your runs very gradually. Doing so will result in healthy running.

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1 Comment

  1. Robin Washington

    March 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Great article! I plan to use all of these tips in order to prevent injuries as I run.

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