GP and clinical strategist Dr May has some helpful hints to keep you injury free when training
You are entering the 2016 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, your Doctor is happy with your proposed new exercise regime and you have decided to start training – you’re ready to go! But there are some golden rules of running to keep you on the right track and injury free.
The first rule is: Remember that you have to walk before you run! We’ve all been guilty of throwing ourselves into a new exercise regime whole-heartedly only to over-do it and pick up an injury in no time. While it is very tempting to just go out and run as fast as you can for as long as you can, you will ultimately run longer, feel stronger, and stay injury free if you start by adding short runs to your regular walks, and then gradually increase the amount of time you spend running.
Your main goal is to get fit without getting injured and going too far and too fast before your body is ready is one of the most common causes of injuries.
You should gradually increase your running time so that eventually you will be running for twice the amount of time that you spend walking. If you feel like walking at a brisk or more comfortable pace then that’s ok too. Follow the weekly guide here in the Herald – it’s been developed to help you get fit steadily.
So when should you stop and when do you need to keep going?
It’s very normal to feel some low-level aches and pains when you first start a walking or running programme but it is really important that you listen to your body and don’t ignore pain that continues. Persistent pain or pains that worsen while you walk, jog or run are signals to rest for at least a week. If the pain persists and doesn’t seem to be improving it would be worth consulting with a professional such as a GP or a chartered physiotherapist to get to the bottom of the problem.
Rule number 2: Run efficiently. Find a running stance that suits you. Every runner, walker or jogger has a different style that works for them and there are lots of advice pieces on good posture – find the one that works for you and remember to listen to your body, if you are suffering from niggles or aches then something isn’t working correctly so talk to a professional for advice.
Rule number 3 - Invest in a good pair of shoes that are suited to your feet. Most sports stores will advise you on the best type of exercise shoe for your proposed goal. In many cases they will get you to try on a number of different brands of shoe and may even get you to run or walk on a treadmill so that they can evaluate the shoe and so that you can see how it feels when you are on the move. Good quality shoes will minimise blistering as well as reducing wear and tear on your leg muscles – vital components in finishing the 2016 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon. It’s also worth remembering that you should consider replacing your shoes after approximately 450/800 kms (300-500 mile)s to ensure they still meet your needs.
Rule number 4 - STRETCH! - Stretching will help to strengthen the muscles particularly the quadriceps, abdomen and muscles of the lower legs. Many injuries are caused by incorrect or inadequate stretching so it’s an important part of your fitness programme and you should make sure you do this properly before setting off.
The end? One final piece of advice for joggers or runners - consider incorporating a 20 minute walk after you run a longer distance or participate in a run. When you run, blood gets re-directed to your legs, away from your internal organs. A gentle walk afterwards is a great way to return your body to its normal levels.