Spring is here! As the weather grows warmer and the days become longer, more people across Utah are getting set to start running. Whether that’s a quick jog around the neighborhood, running the Ogden River Parkway, or heading up into the Wasatch Mountains for trail running, there are plenty of opportunities to start running and living an active lifestyle.
Sometimes, however, running can result in injury. This article will go through a few tips on how to run safely and avoid injury, and how to prepare to start running this season.
8 tips for running safely and avoiding injury
Here are eight tips for running safely and avoiding injury in Utah:
1. Don’t push yourself too far, too fast
Your muscles and joints need time to recover after running. It’s easy to overwork your body and push yourself too hard. Gradually build your endurance and speed over time. For example, you might slightly increase your distance once per week, not every day. When doing so, try to only increase your distance or speed by small increments.
Like they say, slow and steady wins the race.
2. Get the right running shoes
There are many types of running and athletic shoes out there. Get the best shoe for your body and your lifestyle. If you have orthotics, you’ll want to find a shoe that has arch support or can fit inserts.
Think about how you run. Whether you run on the inside, outside, or forefoot, you’ll want to find a shoe that helps support that style.
Maintaining your running shoes is also important. Shoes wear down with use, which increases the risk of injury. Shoes should be replaced every 400 to 600 miles, or about six months of regular running.
And, although it might seem silly, make sure that your shoes are tied. There’s nothing worse than tripping during a run.
3. Be aware of your surroundings
When running outside, always be aware of your surroundings. There are all sorts of obstacles that could get in your way and cause injury.
Be on the watch for tree roots, bumps in the sidewalk, debris and obstacles like tree branches or garage cans, and curbs. Running into any of these or tripping could result in serious injury.
Being aware of your surroundings won’t just help you avoid falling or tripping, but it allows you to stay safe from other dangers like people, cars, and animals.
4. Use proper form while running
When running, it’s important to use proper form to run safely and avoid injury.
A common mistake new runners make is swinging their arms diagonally in front of them to go faster. This can actually cause torque on your spine and it throws off your stability. Swing your arms forward and back instead.
You should also keep your shoulders relaxed. Hunching your shoulders can result in shoulder and neck pain. If you start to feel pain in these areas, relax your arms and shoulders.
5. Do warm ups prior to running
Warming up before going on a run is extremely important. Start your run with a walk or jog for 5-10 minutes. Perform stretches that activate your hamstrings, quads, calves, arms, shoulders, back, and hip flexors. Stretches can help you avoid Achilles Tendinitis and other muscle tightness.
Speaking of stretches, regular yoga can help improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury while running,
Foam rollers are a great tool to use for warm ups before you start running. Foam rolling can improve your blood circulation, which helps prime your body for working out. It also helps your muscles get ready for stretching by rolling out knots. Start by rolling slowly. Roll back and forth until you feel the more tender areas of your body soften.
Some popular areas to foam roll include your calves, IT band, quads, and the piriformis muscle.
6. Let your body cool down after running
Just as with warm ups, it is important to walk for 5-10 minutes after your run to allow your body to cool down. This is also a good time to stretch again to reduce any soreness you might experience. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
Foam rollers are once again a great tool to use after a run. Roll out your hamstrings and quads to help your body recover after a run.
7. Avoid running in extreme weather conditions
Weather can play a huge role in your ability to run safely.
Running in temperatures near or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit could cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. If the weather is hot, consider running indoors on a treadmill or elliptical. Running on a sunny day can also result in sunburns, so be sure to use sunscreen.
You should also avoid running outside in extremely cold weather. Cold weather can cause frostbite, and the presence of snow and ice can result in falls and injury.
8. Build your strength
Strength training is another way to prevent injuries while running. Stronger muscles and tendons are more protected from injury or falls. Stronger muscles also allow you to run with more control and stability, which can prevent falls.
Strength training also helps runners meet their goals by allowing your body to create more force and power when your feet touch the ground. It also can help with practicing good posture and stabilization.
With warming temperatures and restlessness due to the pandemic, Utahns are looking to get active and start running. With the above tips for how to run safely and avoid injury, you will be set to go out and enjoy the fresh air.
Before starting any new fitness routine you should consult your doctor or physical therapist. They can help you prepare, establish a plan, and demonstrate proper techniques to avoid injury.
If you are looking to start running in the Ogden, Utah area, contact us at Bridge Physical Therapy. We teach injury prevention and maintenance and offer annual wellness visits to ensure that you are ready for your new fitness journey.
If you do happen to find yourself injured after running, don’t hesitate to give Bridge Physical Therapy a call. No doctor’s referral is necessary and we accept most major health insurance plans.
At Bridge Physical Therapy, we educate, empower, and elevate people to achieve their highest goals and bridge the gap of functional limitations. Schedule an appointment with us today! Call 801-317-1618.