It’s that time of year again! The weather is perfect for a run. There is no question that running is a great way to develop muscle strength and aerobic capacity, all while enjoying the outdoors. Most runners live longer than non-runners due to the physical and mental benefits of running, as well as the healthy habits developed through running.
Unfortunately, running—if done incorrectly—can also lead to numerous injuries. While you may be tempted to push through the injury and keep running, this mindset can compromise the short-term benefits of running and may lead to more serious injuries and conditions in the long term. So what can you do to get the most from your runs, decrease your risk for injury, and maximize your exercise? It’s simple: take care of your form.
Mobility and stretching are simple, effective ways to start being more mindful of your form. A proper warm-up and cooldown reduces your muscle soreness, reduces your risk of injury, and increases your overall fitness.
Tight muscles specifically in runners include: quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors (iliopsoas), calves (gastrocnemius and soleus), piriformis, and the glutes (gluteus maximus and gluteus medius). Spine mobility, support, and strengthening is also an important component of running preparedness.
What kind of stretching is best and when? For a general fitness program, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends an active warm-up followed by static stretching at least 2 to 3 days per week. For example, walk for 2-3 minutes then hold about your stretches for 15-30 seconds, 2 to 4 times for each stretch. People over 40 years old should consider longer stretches as muscle flexibility changes as you age and requires more attention.
You can also stretch your muscles dynamically with movement. At Rebalance, we recommend starting with a dynamic warm-up like a few minutes of walking. Go for your run, then statically stretch your muscles afterward. If you are still experiencing problems or pain that lasts more than a few hours after your run, contact us to set up an appointment with one of our therapists.
Rebalance physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving motion. We can help you enhance your performance, prevent injury, or return to running. Having an injury does not mean that your running days are over. Contact us to see what you can do to improve the quality of your running to get pain-free and stay injury-free.
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