Six Tips for Healthy Running
Running strengthens your muscles, reduces stress and enhances your overall cardiovascular health. However, if done incorrectly, running can lead to common and painful knee injuries such as meniscal tears, ACL ruptures and arthritis.
“Running injuries are quite common,” said Phillip Bennion, M.D., avid runner and orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center. “These are often injuries due to overuse and can be prevented with proper running technique and equipment.”
Dr. Bennion shares six running tips to avoid injury and embrace the benefits of an invigorating run.
Tip 1: Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Raise your body temperature by one degree with a five-minute warm-up routine. This will increase the supply of oxygen to your muscles and improve flexibility. Complete your workout with a five- to 10-minute cool-down to gradually maintain the blood flow throughout your body. Follow each routine with stretching.
Tip 2: Stay Hydrated
Drink water before, during and after the run. Staying hydrated can prevent exhaustion, muscle cramps and fatigue.
Tip 3: Wear Proper Running Shoes and Gear
When running, each person distributes weight throughout their foot in a unique way. Visit your local running store and ask the staff to help you find a running shoe that complements your gait and your foot’s unique shape.
Tip 4: Cross-train
Increase overall fitness by pursuing additional methods of exercise, such as hiking, swimming, biking and elliptical training. Cross-training strengthens muscles that aren’t fully engaged through running and relaxes those that are. To avoid knee injury, avoid exercises that put a lot of stress on the knee such as knee extensions, lunges and full squats.
Tip 5: Focus on Proper Technique and Breathing Patterns
Lean your natural center of gravity slightly forward, bend your knees and twist your spine as you run. This will help to prevent injury and maintain momentum. Increase oxygen flow to your muscles by breathing in or out every time your dominant foot contacts the ground. Proper technique and breathing can optimize your run and increase endurance.
Tip 6: Consider the Terrain
Reduce the impact absorbed by your joints by running on resilient, even and reasonably soft surfaces. Avoid running on hills to reduce stress to your ankles and feet. When running on curves, such as a running track, reverse directions halfway through your run to ensure equal pressure on both feet.
Written by Phillip Bennion
Phillip Bennion, M.D., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. Dr. Bennion practices at AZ Center for Bone & Joint Disorders in Phoenix, Ariz. For more information or for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).
This information is provided by St. Luke’s Medical Center as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.