Wellness Wednesday: 5 Tips to Properly Start a Running Program

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Loudoun County, Va. — Running is a great way for us to improve our cardiovascular health. As a form of aerobic exercise, running can reduce stress, improve heart health and alleviate symptoms of depression. Plus, you can do it anywhere, and it’s one of the most effective way to get the benefits of exercise.

However, running carries an extremely low rate of success in the context of it being a new goal or resolution. In fact, some studies show that only 8% of resolutions are successfully met. So why such a low rate, and what can we do to improve it? Like all goals, the key is to lay out and follow an actionable plan while keeping it as simple as possible in order to meet running goals that enforce consistency and most importantly prevent injury.

1. Gradually increase your mileage

Good aerobic activity is the foundation of your running performance. If you are coming off the couch, start by getting out for a brisk walk and working your way up to interval running and longer runs. Be realistic with yourself when it comes to your current fitness level or you will set yourself up for discouragement and quitting before you really begin. A slow progression prepares the body to handle the added stress on the joints. There are plenty of couch-to-5K programs out there so do your research and find one that works for you.

2. Include strength training into your running program

No successful runner just runs! Strength training improves your muscular strength and endurance which reduces injury. When your muscles get tired, it affects your running mechanics and leads to injury. Strength training should include both the upper and lower body and DO NOT forget about core strengthening, too.

3. Take time out for flexibility

Daily stretching is essential to improve and maintain flexibility, which in turn will help improve performance and prevent injuries.

4. Hydration and Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet will help you feel more energized. In addition to good nutrition, it’s important to stay hydrated. A general rule of thumb is to drink 6-8 oz of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. Don’t forget to hydrate before a run!

5. Good shoes make all the difference

There are many running specific stores around that can recommend a good shoe based on your foot type and running style and body mechanics.

Ideally, any runner wants to be able to run for as long as they want without pain. The reality though for both new and seasoned runners is that both are susceptible to injury. Some of the most common running injuries include:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Hamstring strains
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome
  • Stress fractures

All of these are treatable with physical therapy. If you feel pain, it is never a good idea to run through it.

NOTE FROM OUR SPONSOR: Stop running and let the physical therapy staff at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center evaluate your injury or pain and design a personalized plan of care geared at reducing any pain and inflammation and strengthening the area and its surrounding structures so you can prevent future injuries. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300!

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Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is a premier physical therapy clinic. We offer outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy as well as specialty programs.

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