7 Tips for Injury Proof Running

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No question, running is a smart way to build cardiovascular fitness, lose weight, boost the immune system naturally, and raise levels of the body’s feel-good hormones (endorphins). It’s also great for stress relief—and who can’t use a little of that?! But, don’t run yourself ragged! Running isn’t risk free. Runners experience shin splints, stress fractures, runner’s knee, and more. The good news is you can reduce and prevent running injuries:

Here are 7 Tips for Injury Proof Running:

1. Invest in proper shoes. All running shoes are not created equally. Wearing shoes not designed for running or shoes that don’t fit properly can cause injury as well as make existing injuries worse. If you’re already dealing with an injury or have other foot issues, you may need to use orthotics for proper fit. What’s more, shoes should be replaced about every 300-500 miles. Check out Choosing the Perfect Running Shoe.

2. Don’t overdo it. Overtraining—doing too much too soon or too fast—is a prime culprit when it comes to running injuries. While it’s okay to push yourself, it’s important to make that push is gradual. Don’t increase mileage by more than 10% each week, and make any increase in intensity gradual, so it happens over a series of workouts.

3. Stretch it out. Stretching is one of the single most important factors in preventing injury. Always make time to stretch the body, especially the muscles of the lower back and the back of the legs. Stretch after the run to take advantage of warmed-up muscles and exercise-pumped blood flow. Watch these Stretching Videos for ideas.

4. Listen to your body. Don’t wait until a little pain becomes a big one that sidelines your routine. Even little aches and pains are your body’s way of signaling a problem. When soreness or pain is persistent or gets worse, it’s time to start listening. Rest your body and, if necessary, see a medical professional for evaluation.

5. RICE it. Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation is a strategy for treating running injuries. Apply ice for 10-15 minutes at a time, several times over the day. Compress and elevate the area to reduce swelling. But remember that RICE-ing it right after an injury isn’t enough—you’ll need to take at least a few days off from running to allow the body to heal.

6. Pump yourself up. Prevent running injuries by making the entire body strong enough to support your exercise. Strong muscles will help keep joints properly aligned. Do regular strength training to tone core muscles as well as those surrounding the hips, like the abductors and glutes. Check out these 6 Beautifying Butt Workouts.

7. Rest the body. The impact of constant running can trigger havoc, especially on the shock-absorbing joints. Hardcore runners should plan for at least one non-running day each week to give the body a chance to recoup. That day off doesn’t mean you need to be idle—substitute in a session of yoga or cycling to get your physical activity without jarring the joints. Get started with this Power Yoga Workout.

Running is a smart way to lose weight and build a healthier body. Use these tips to reduce and prevent running injuries. Happy running!

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