While running is a popular choice of activity to keep fit and is good for you in many ways, many overlooked that running can also cause injuries due to the impact from strides. Running injuries can affect anyone, regardless if you are a competitive runner or a leisure one, and are inevitable unless one take steps to minimise or prevent them.
Running causes muscles to contract faster than normal hence risks of injury are higher when the muscles are not warmed up. Warm up exercises raise blood flow to the muscles and the heat causes physical changes in connective tissues that make muscles more flexible. Other than stretching, you can also warm up for any intense activity by doing a similar activity less intensely i.e. do a slow jog for two to three minutes to prepare those muscles. Warming up reduces tightness in muscles and also decreases the level of soreness you will feel after a run, as your muscles will have been adequately prepared.
Poor or abnormal running form is a cause of most running injuries, and in most cases these flaws can be corrected if you are mindful enough. An example of a common misalignment is when you lean your upper body forward while running which places more stress on your knees. Overpronation, in which arches turn inward on hitting the ground, also increased the likelihood of knee pain threefold. Fix the above mentioned by straightening up; your head and shoulders should be in a line over your hips, and focus on pushing off with your big toe and on keeping your knees pointing straight ahead during ground contact.
Shoes that are too snug can restrict blood flow to the toes and reduce blood circulation so make sure that you can fit one finger between the laces and the tongue of your shoe. Your running shoes should provide adequate support for your foot type e.g. choose shoes that provide support in both the front of the shoe and under the arch if your feet pronate or have low arches and go for shoes with better cushion and a softer platform if you have a stiffer foot or high arches. You should also replace your running shoes once the thread wears out or the heels wear down.
Runners with weaker quads and hamstrings were found to be three to six times more likely to develop knee pain hence strengthen them by supplementing or alternating your running training with cross training. Low-impact cross training activities, like swimming, can lessen the stress on your joint and allow the joints to rest and recover from a recent intense run. Cross-training also gives runners a much-needed mental break from their sport, which is especially important for those training for long-distance events such as marathons.
Ultimately, you should always listen to your body and be cautious whenever pain is felt. Always stop or modify the activity until the pain subsides. Also, if you have been injured, you should go through a period of rehabilitation and training before returning to the sport to prevent recurrent injuries. If your body is in tip-top condition, maximise the benefits of running by doing five simple things, which includes proper strength-training and hydration.
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