Your morning runs aren’t just part of your routine — they’re part of who you are. If you don’t take certain safety precautions, however, they can do your body harm as well as good.
Running too much, too hard and with too little preparation can be hard on your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Use these tips to avoid orthopedic pitfalls due to running:
Branch out. Cross training can make you a stronger and safer runner. Add some different activities, such as strength training, swimming and yoga, to your exercise regimen.
Don’t pound the pavement (unless you have to). Running on concrete sidewalks can cause shin splints as well as stress fractures in the feet and lower legs. Choose more forgiving surfaces, such as a dirt trail or synthetic track. Even asphalt can be slightly better for the body than concrete.
Keep on an even keel. If you’re a novice runner, stick to flat surfaces to build strength before tackling hills.
Listen to your body. Never run through injury, or something that could affect your mechanics, such as a bunion. Doing so could lead to a more serious issue.
Phase in change gradually. Sudden variations in your running regimen, such as switching from a treadmill to an outdoor track or from running two miles a day to four, can increase your risk for a variety of injuries, including stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee. Give your body time to adjust. Introduce a new running surface slowly over a period of weeks. Follow the American Academy of Family Physicians’ recommendation, and only increase your mileage by 10 percent or less each week.
Start with a warmup. Never run or stretch with cold muscles. A gentle walk is a great way to warm up muscles and prevent injury.
Choosing Shoes to Help You Shine
Finding the perfect pair of running shoes can be tough. Start your shopping at a specialty running store to learn from the experts. The perfect shoe should feature:
Consistent cushioning — For optimal support, look for shoes that have little heel-to-toe drop — the difference in cushioning between the back and front of the shoe. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a drop of 6 millimeters or less.
Natural movement — Your body should guide the shoes, not the other way around. Running shoes should allow pronation — natural inward motion of the foot during running. Shoes built to control movement and stop pronation could lead to injury.
Toe room — If you can place your thumb between your big toe and the end of the shoe and can comfortably wiggle your toes inside, your toes have enough breathing space.
If you do experience a problem, Tennova Healthcare’s orthopedic specialists handle everything from a torn muscle or broken bone to total joint replacement and minimally invasive surgery. Find an Orthopedic Surgeon at Tennova.com.