Warming up and Flexibility
As with any other sport, it is essential that you warm up appropriately. A great way to warm up your muscles before a run is to perform a dynamic warm up. This means warming up while moving rather than a traditional static stretch.
Some great dynamic exercises to perform before running are:
- Forward Lunges
- Side Lunges
- Body Weight Squats
- High Knee walking
- Single leg deadlifts
These are simple exercises that will get blood flow to the muscles and help prepare you to start your work out.
After your run, it will be important to perform some stretching and foam rolling to help your muscles recover. You can use any of your favorite stretches but plan to spend at least 15-20 minutes stretching.
Foam rolling does not require you to spend extensive time per region. Some people get carried away, but you only need to roll out the same spot for 1-2 minutes and move to the next. This is a great tool to help target knots and trigger points in your muscles that may have developed from your work out. If you have gone on an extended run (15 miles +), allow your body to cool down and recover before stretching. When you are running longer distances, your muscles will develop micro muscle tears which can be further injured if you stress the tissues (as with a stretch) immediately after the run. Give yourself a couple of hours and make sure you stretch before the end of the day.
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Water is always essential, but when training regularly your body requires even more water than you might think.
- Fuel your body with nutrients: As you train you will be burning plenty of calories, remember to replace them with a healthy diet including healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and plenty of protein to aid in your recovery.
- Consider strength training in your program. A diverse workout plan is essential to safe training, so just because you are training for a cardio event does not mean you can neglect the weight room. The stronger you are, the easier it is to prevent injuries. You may even use the weight room to target common weak muscles such as the glute medius, hamstrings, etc. which can help you prevent injuries
- REST. REST. REST. I discussed maintaining a gradual increase in your mileage but remember, your body needs time to recover. You can have an active rest day where you go for a walk or a casual swim but give your body a break while training so it can recover and help you perform to the best of your ability.
- Consider visiting a sports recovery center such as Health Fit Sports Recovery. As your training gets more intense and recovery becomes more difficult to consider trying Normatec compression boots or whole-body cryotherapy. These are two tools that have been shown to help athletes’ recovery during training quicker and help them reach their maximum performance.
There are plenty of things you can do prevent injuries while training and these are just a starting point. Implement as many of these strategies into your routine as you can, and you will be running pain-free in no time!