Get your running goals on track with a few of our Physical Therapist’s tips.
It may appear to be one of the most straightforward exercises out there — just head out into your neighborhood or local parks or trails and go — but if you’re looking to start a running routine or want to increase your stamina and speed, there are several things you need to keep in mind before you lace up your sneakers.
Lynn Kotlicky, Physical Therapist, DPT with Renown Physical Therapy and Rehab offers five tips for running success.
Take small steps
Start walking and jogging in intervals that aren’t strenuous — rushing into your goal to run for miles can lead to burn out and injury. Instead, focus on getting active and celebrate each milestone you pass.
Begin by alternating walking and running with 2 minute intervals. Most people run too quickly and fatigue too rapidly. Start much slower than you think you should and try to keep moving. Give your body at least 4 to 6 weeks to adapt to the new activity and only try running three days per week initially.
Get geared up
A common theme when starting a running routine is to buy fashionable gear and fancy equipment. Although these items are fun to shop for, the most important thing you should focus on is a good pair of shoes.
You should choose shoes that are based on your foot type and not on what is stylish. While there has been a lot of hype surrounding barefoot running shoes, zero drop and minimalist running shoes, every person has a different foot type. You should choose shoes to match your foot type and mileage.
Most people have foot types that fall into one of three categories. There are overpronators, whose ankle rolls inward too far with each step, quickly wearing down the inside of the shoe; neutral, whose foot strikes the ground heel first, rolling toward the toes, wearing down the shoe evenly; and supinators, whose feet roll inward after the foot lands, quickly wearing down the outside of the shoe.
If you choose a shoe that does not match your foot type can result in injury and pain. Keep in mind that everyone has different body and foot types and a shoe that works for a friend may not be the best for you. Major shoe companies have shoes that accommodate each foot type and if you visit a specialty running shop — such as the Reno Running Company and Eclipse Running — you can get fitted for a supportive shoe or bring in your current shoe to have it assessed.
Keep yourself injury free
If you’re not stretching before running, you need to start scheduling stretches into your routine. Research has shown that dynamic stretching — movement stretches such as walking lunges — prior to a run effectively warm up your muscles, making you more pliable and coordinated. You might also want to include a few static stretches — those held for at least 30 seconds — after your run to help you cool down and decrease the day after muscle stiffness.
When you’re moving through your warm up movements, remember to do so smoothly and within a comfortable range of motion and don’t bounce. Repeat 10 to 15 times for about 3 to 5 minutes before starting off on your run.
Both active and dynamic stretches help in injury prevention and increased performance. Stretching for 10 minutes can save you days of pain and discomfort.
Find your routine
Lynn’s advice is to make time for your work out and eliminate excuses. “Being a mother to a four year old, if I don’t run on my lunch hour, it doesn’t happen,” she admits. Lynn’s fail-proof running routine involves running everyday along the Truckee River which is close to her work at Renown Physical Therapy and Rehab.
Don’t let an injury get you down
When you’re starting to feel pain, make time to see your primary care doctor. If you catch the injury before it gets worse, you can offset the length of time you are out because of it. Physical Therapy is great for runners because it can identify muscle dysfunction and imbalance. This can help determine why the injury has occurred and gives you a chance to work on strengthening weaker muscles and focus on good form.