Runners: Exercise caution before hitting pavement
Warmer temperatures mean it’s time to lace up those sneakers and head outside for a run.
Unfortunately, during this time of year in all of the excitement of the improving weather, runners can overdo it and suffer season-ending injuries.
“Spring is a vulnerable time for runners. Oftentimes, runners relax their routines during the winter. Then, as soon as the weather turns nice, they want to get back to their old routine,” says Dr. Steven Chudik, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “It’s important to make the transition from running on a treadmill to an outdoor trail gradually and injury-free.”
Runners who have been training indoors over the winter months need to transition slowly, since running outside is often more challenging. It also requires the body to adapt to different terrain and wind resistance, which alone can increase the workload by two to 10 percent.
Dr. Chudik suggests the following tips to run safely and prevent injury:
- Plan a progressive running schedule. Start with one or two shorter runs per week outside and build from that starting point.
- Wear proper running shoes. Check the tread wear and replace shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
- Avoid running on concrete, as it causes more shock to the joints. Instead, run on asphalt, dirt or grass.
- Avoid running outdoors in inclement weather or when roads are slippery from precipitation.
- Stay hydrated and well-nourished.
Dr. Chudik says the high-impact nature of running can cause a variety of injuries, such as stress fractures, sprains, runner’s knee, shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
“You can reduce your risk of injury by maintaining a moderate and balanced fitness program that combines cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, core strength and flexibility. Remember to start out slow and increase the intensity over time,” says Dr. Chudik.
Runners also should consider scheduling an appointment with their physician before beginning a routine in order to check for health issues, such as heart problems.
About the Author
Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.