If you’ve been a runner for long, there’s a decent chance you’ve experienced a running-related injury at some point. They’re not fun, are they? Not only do they keep you from your beloved pastime, they also limit your ability to perform daily tasks. Severe injuries may render you sedentary for weeks or even months.
There are several types of injuries that are caused by running — plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, piriformis syndrome, and injuries to the hip flexor are a few examples. When it comes to injuries like these, prevention is definitely the best medicine. But, there is some confusion about how to keep such injuries at bay. Although there’s no guarantee that it can prevent injuries 100 percent of the time, stretching sure goes a long way in keeping runners healthy and on their feet.
Warming Up and Stretching: the Keys to Injury Prevention
Runners who want to keep from hurting themselves should commit to always warm up and stretch before a run, and cool down and stretch after. To warm up pre run, simply walk for a few minutes. After warming up, proceed to stretching. The article 10 Common Running Injuries: Prevention and Treatment states, “Many injuries occur as a result of inadequate stretching. Before and after you run, stretch your muscles thoroughly — especially your calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps. “ This 2-step anti-injury protocol is simple but effective.
5 Anti-Injury Tips for Runners
Almost all runners know that they should perform pre- and post-run stretching. However, this doesn’t mean that they always stretch, or that they stretch properly. Here are 5 stretching tips that any runner should add to his or her injury-fighting arsenal:
— Don’t hold your breath when you stretch. Breathe normally.
— Never rush stretching. It only takes a couple minutes, so don’t shortchange yourself.
— Stretch properly. According to Jorje Rodriguez, author of the article The Best Stretches to Prevent Running Injuries, proper stretching means holding “the stretch position for 30 seconds and (doing) 2-3 repetitions with each leg, leaving 10-15 seconds between each repetition.”
— Avoid stretching cold muscles. Always warm up before you stretch.
— If a stretch causes you pain, back off the intensity until the pain subsides.
Do you have questions about how you can prevent running-related injuries? Or, are you worried that you have sustained an injury that has not yet been treated? If so, contact a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are healthcare practitioners who have all the answers you need about running and its effects on the body. Be sure to ask your physiotherapist what specific stretches are best for you.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” How true. In all that you put into running, be sure to invest regular periods of warming up and stretching. Hopefully, your body will thank you in the most beautiful way: By staying healthy and injury-free.