7 Running Tips You Need To Know
Long-distance running, cross country and marathons have been a popular sport for a very long time. In fact, running for sport dates all the way back to 776 B.C. to the first Olynmic Games .
Fast forward a few thousand years and in Australia alone, 3 million people run for sport and recreation. Running is fantastic for your health, and is a great choice for people at a range of fitness levels.
Consistent running has been shown to lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol and body fat percentage – just to name a few of the benefits.
However, because it’s so straightforward it is easy to assume you can grab your sneakers, hitting the pavement without any preparation – but without correct technique, running can cause significant wear and tear on your body.
Below are important pieces of advice about long-distance running that could prevent many of the common injuries we see at The Brisbane Spine Clinic. These tips should help you last for many more miles!
The method you use to land on your foot is called a footstrike. There is debate about the best footstrike to use, and various evidence points towards different techniques as having different benefits.
You should pay attention to your footstrike and determine the best method of footstriking for your personal preference.
One way you could identify your footstrike is by filming yourself as you run, and taking note of which part of your foot hits the ground first.
The most important thing you should avoid is overstriding. This occurs when your foot strikes the ground too far in front of your body. Overstriding leads to increased shock when landing and causes poorer running performance.
Heel striking refers to a stride where the heel hits the ground first. This method may benefit the calf muscles and feel natural in comparison to other running strikes, however it may increase the risk of knee injuries.
Forefoot and midfoot striking
Some runners choose to land on their toes first, which is called a forefoot strike, or with their whole foot, which is called midfoot.
The advantage of using a midfoot strike is that the shock can be absorbed more evenly, reducing shock on the knees, hips and lower back vertebrae.
Learn more about the different kinds of running strikes here.
Our advice is to seek a professional opinion if you are unsure which striking method is best for you. According to your individual comfort level, injury risks and strengths, a physiotherapist can give you an assessment and personalised advice.
- Natural Arm Swings
It is surprising how many runners we see, that run with rigid backs and shoulders.
This habit will result in overstraining of the shoulder girdle muscles and increase tension on its attachment site, the neck, and skull. Over an extended period of time, this may reduce the blood supply to the head and excessive muscle tension that may lead to headaches, neck pain and even hypoxic symptoms.
Breathing is essential as it paces you during long-distance runs and is vital to support your stamina and provide your muscles with enough oxygen.
It is important to keep your shoulders relaxed as mentioned above. Natural arm swings make your upper body less rigid, this in turn improves breathing, allowing you to pace your running steps with your breaths.
Having a pair of good running shoes is very important for a few reasons. They will support your feet, lower limbs as well and low back and minimise strain as you run. A good running shoe also helps to enhance the ability of your foot arch to generate forward propulsion force. When picking the right running shoes, make sure:
- The heel cup is cushioned and firm so it does not collapse when you squeeze it
- There is enough padding in the foot arch region on the sole
Remember to always firmly tighten your shoelaces to minimise your foot slipping inside running shoes.
- Warm up and cool down
It may seem easy to skip the warm-up before your run – after all, you are probably eager to get into it as soon as possible. But both a warm-up and a cool-down are important for injury prevention.
A good warm-up increases circulation raises your heart rate and supports your muscles to get enough oxygen.
Warm-up activities may include activities performed at a lower intensity. These might include: jogging at a slower pace, shoulder swings or marching. This prepares your body for the demanding metabolic activity of running.
Stretches and gentle movement improve mobility and stretch out tendons and ligaments, reducing the risk of injury such as an ankle sprain. Try to warm up for at least 10 minutes. Some stretches that we suggest are:
- Side lunges
- Arm swings
- Bent knee leg swings
- Hamstring stretches (these can be performed lying down or standing up)
- Calf stretches (stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent
At the end of your run, you can incorporate a cool down by slowing your pace for the end of your run and repeating the stretches above before you finish up.
- Pace yourself
Running feels great. You might be energised, or determined to improve quickly and beat your goals. These are fantastic – but if you push yourself too hard and run too fast too early, you can risk overexertion, pain, and even injury.
As you build up and can run faster and further, make sure that you don’t push your body too hard in one run. Additionally, schedule rest days in between your runs to support your cardiovascular system and muscles to adapt to the increased demands placed on them.
- Remember to do other exercises.
We understand – running can be addictive.
Many runners are disinterested in any other form of exercise. However, don’t overlook other strengthening and training exercises that are not cardio-focused, such as core work and muscle strengthening.
If you’re looking to maximise your running performance there are strength training exercises available which are tailored for runners, such as squats, pistol squats, heel raises and lunges.
Pilates may also have a range of benefits for runners. The controlled movements involved in pilates exercises can support breathing control, improve core strength and support an increased range of motion and flexibility.
These types of exercises are important for every runner to do alongside their daily run. Many common running injuries can be connected back to a weakened core.
The Brisbane Spine Clinic
If you’d like to come in for an assessment to ensure that you are taking the right steps to prevent injury from long-term wear and tear, or if you’d like assistance with injury rehabilitation, contact us at The Brisbane Spine Clinic.
Our friendly team of knowledgeable chiropractors and physiotherapists can provide you with advice and exercise programs aimed at helping you excel and reduce your risk of injury.
Book now at one of our convenient locations.