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Tips for Runners to Stay Healthy

Jessica Slavik, ATC, ATR
Athletic Trainer, ACMC-Willmar Skylark Center

Often runners may experience injuries and they come to expect some soreness and pain when running is their workout of choice. It is important to understand the risks of a running program and also understand that many of these injuries can be prevented. Here are some tips that runners can use to ensure they are keeping themselves healthy and on the road.

  • During hot weather, run in the early morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • In cold weather, you are less likely to get chilled if you run into the wind when you start running and run with the wind at the finish.
  • Do not run at night. If you run at dusk or dawn, wear reflective material.
  • Whenever possible, run on a clear, smooth, even, and reasonably soft surface. Avoid running on hills, which increases stress on the ankle and foot.
  • When running on a curve, such as a running track, reverse directions halfway through your run so that you have even pressure on both feet during the run.
  • Plan a progressive running program. A five-minute warm-up (which should raise your temperature by one degree) followed by stretching exercises, is essential before starting a run. Following the run, stretch.
    • Walk for 3 to 5 minutes
    • Add strides (jog to run for about 100 meters); 5 to 6 times
    • Dynamic (movement) stretches
      • Skipping
      • Shuffle
      • Butt Kicks
      • High Knees
      • Walking Lunge
  • Look for good shock absorption in a shoe and construction that will provide stability and cushioning to the foot.
    • Make sure a thumbnail's width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
    • Buy shoes at the end of the day when your foot is the largest.
  • Drink 10 to 15 oz. of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to running and every 20 to 30 minutes along your route. Weigh yourself before and after a run. For every pound lost, drink one pint of fluid.
  • Stretching after a run will help recovery. Static (stationary) stretches can be done post-run to help muscles cool down and stretch after a long workout. A foam Roller or stick roller can be utilized to help stretch muscles.
    • Hamstrings
    • Quadriceps
    • IT Band (outer thigh)
    • Glutes
    • Calves
    • Arms, shoulders
    • Core
  • Work on body strengthening to ensure a well-rounded body. Body weight exercises, such as squats, dead lifts, leg bridges, planks, push-ups and lunges are great exercises to incorporate into an exercise program to help reduce any undue stress on the body.

Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and Runner's World