Today, running is one of the most popular – and cheapest – ways to keep fit. There are many types of runners, from marathon runners to those that see it as a simple way to lose weight. But whatever kind of runner you are, injuries may be a common problem. The most frequent running injuries include Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, runner’s knee and ankle sprains. However, there are some simple ways you can prevent these common complaints.
One vital tip is to ensure that you warm up before you go running. A few minutes of pulse-raising exercise – like skipping or cycling – combined with calf, hamstring and groin stretches will help loosen your muscles before you begin. Perhaps more important is stretching after your run is over, as this will help relax your muscles after you’ve been running, however short or long your route. Ultimately, warming up before a run and cooling down afterwards helps raise your muscle temperature, which increases the speed at which muscles relax and reduces the probability of an injury occurring.
If you’re a new runner, you should also make sure that you don’t overdo it. A common cause of running injuries is when runners overshoot their abilities – that is, they run too far when they’re still relatively inexperienced. If you manage to comfortably run five miles in one day, don’t think you can successfully increase it to ten the next. Instead, make incremental increases in your distance – for example, a mile each day – until you hit your desired target.
Nutrition also plays a key role. Eating a balanced diet with a high proportion of fruit and vegetables will ensure that your body is capable of handling a regular running schedule. Stay away from junk food, which will only give you a quick burst of energy. Instead, concentrate on food groups that supply your body with sustained energy, like protein, and those that play a role in muscle repair, especially carbohydrates. This will ensure that you have the energy levels to run longer distances without straining your muscles, thereby preventing common injuries.
There are also external factors that contribute towards preventing running injuries. One of these may be not wearing the correct footwear. It’s important to wear proper running shoes if you’re a frequent runner as they’ll protect your feet and may also help maintain your posture. Flimsy shoes or even running shoes that are worn out may cause pain in your legs, knees, hips and back, and therefore could increase the chance of contracting an injury. Think of the problem the same way you would a car: car tyres wear out and need to be replaced when they’ve been overused. So do running shoes and experts recommend that you purchase a new pair after approximately 350 miles of usage.
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