Running can be a great and easily accessible activity (especially in Ottawa!). However, it can be a little intimidating to know where to start. How long? How fast? What equipment do I need? Based on the kinds of questions we receive from healthcare providers, here are our top seven tips on getting you started:
Start With The Right Sneaker:
The sneaker you choose will depend on your foot type. Pronators (flat feet) typically need extra support built into their sneaker. A motion control or stability sneaker typically works best. Supinators (high-arched) require more cushioning. Neutral shoes are available for those considered to have a “normal” arch providing a balance of support and cushioning.
Start small and build your endurance. The best and safest way to start running is by doing a run/walk; run for a minute, then walk for a minute. You can start by doing this for 10-20 minutes. Each week, increase your run time by one minute while keeping your walk time the same. Over time you will be able to run for a full 10 minutes before taking a walk break. Because of the gradual increase in run time, your body has time to get used to the increased activity instead of shocking it by trying to run a full 5K right out of the gait.
The science behind running form has changed over the years. What we know now is that running on the midfoot results in less impact on the body and is a more efficient way of running. Maintain a short, quick stride. Overstriding can easily lead to injury. Make sure that your foot and knee are in line. As your foot strikes that ground, it should be in under the knee. If your heel strikes first, you will find your knee will be behind your foot. This is almost like you are putting on the brakes as you are trying to propel yourself forward. It adds a lot of stress to the feet and joints in the leg, hip and lower back. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed with a bend of 90 degrees or less at the elbow. If your shoulders are starting to tense up, it will affect your breathing.
Hold Off On Hills:
Hills can be a great addition to your running route, they add an additional challenge. However, get your body used to the cardio and muscular demands of running on a flat surface before diving into hills.
Get into the habit of running with water. As your distances increase and the weather becomes warmer, your need for water while running will increase. There are several different types of belts you can use to carry your water. Head to a running store to try out a couple to see how they feel.
Cross-training can be a huge assist in reducing injuries with any kind of fitness routine. With running, the muscles in the front and the back of our legs get worked hard. However, we need to remember we have muscles on the inside out outside of our legs that also need attention. Muscle imbalances around the knees and hips can often lead to knee, hip or lower back pain. It’s also a great time to focus on your core strength. Having a strong core will help you maintain good running form as you start to fatigue.
Warm Up And Cool Down:
Loosening up the joints and warming up the muscles is important before starting any activity. Going through basic ranges of motion, squats or even a short walk can help to get your body ready for running. With stretching, focus on your leg muscles. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds per side.
There’s plenty of information out there on how to become a better runner. Start small and build as your endurance improves. Remember, you started running to feel better, not for it to become a stressor! Talk to your chiropractor, physiotherapist, and registered massage therapist for more helpful tips. Visit us online to book your appointment.