Running & Jogging Season
It’s the time of year to discuss running safety with patients and communities. Sharing your expertise and advice can help properly prepare a body for running and jogging season–and hopefully prevent injury.
Kilah Dunn, PT, an avid runner sent in some of her tips for getting patients ready to run.
Invest in Good Shoes
Many runners will try and get by with cheaper shoes or styles that aren’t a match for their foot type. New runners may be unfamiliar with heel angles, supination or overpronation and what that means for their shoe choice and subsequent ability to correct strides and distribute impact forces evenly. Also, advise runners to replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
Suggest a game plan
Recommend anyone serious about fair-weather running find a running budding (aka accountability partner) to keep up encouragement early in the season. Regardless of capability, anyone inactive during winter should start out slow, slow, slow and build endurance over the course of four to six weeks. Most will notice gains on health and feel stronger while running after the six-week mark. For additional accountability, suggest running buddies sign up for a fall race or 12 to 16-week couch-to-5K program.
The where and the how
Indoor running initially will feel a lot harder than outdoor, so recommend runners start with an outside route. Tracks are usually free and open to the public, and an easy way to measure distance. Regardless of where they run, talk about good running form, or “running tall.” Try describing “run tall” as relaxed, but balanced body alignment while taking short strides with elbows relaxed and swinging at 90 degrees. Runners should be able to hold a saltine cracker in their hand while running and not break it–a good test to see if they are running relaxed.
Exercise and Training
So many ankle, knee and hip problems start from weak hips in runners. Runners should work on glute and hip strength daily. Additionally, encourage cross training (swim, bike, elliptical or light walking) and weight lifting two days a week. Running is a straight plane motion, and exercises that work in the transverse and sagittal planes will be of benefit. Three-way lunges, single-leg squats, hip extension and abduction, side squats and clam shells are all good choices. Warm ups should be at least three to four minutes and include dynamic stretches, like walking lunges or squatting in place. And of course every runner should cool down post-run with three to four minutes of light walking or stretching.
Most importantly, the key to being successful is to be in tune with your body. Runners should know their limits, expect soreness, but be advised not to ignore sharp pains or pains that worsen when they walk. Find a helpful e-book for patients on the Move Forward website, under special publications.