Are you making these running mistakes?
Running is a great way to get and stay in shape but, like any exercise, it can also take a toll on your body. To get the most out of your workout and stay healthy in the process, avoid these four common running mistakes.
- Running on uneven surfaces.
“You don’t always have to run on the same type of surface, as different surfaces can provide variety in your run and train different muscles,” says Dr. Angela Bell, an internal and sports medicine physician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “But you should be aware that concrete surfaces are the hardest and typically require the most support. Be aware of potholes and cracks in the surface, or even slants that may put excessive strain on one side of the body while running. Softer surfaces like grass and sand can be gentler on your joints; however, you exert more energy on these surfaces and can risk ankle sprains and tendonitis. Each time your foot strikes an uneven surface, your muscles and tendons have to work to adjust to the new foot strike. Be prepared to alter your speed or even distance if you run on a surface new to your regimen.”
- Running without proper running shoes.
“It’s a good idea to get fitted for running shoes at a running store,” says Dr. Bell. “They can analyze your gait while you walk and run. If you have any abnormalities in your feet or your gait like flat feet, or feet that roll inward (over pronation), these things are amplified during running and could put strain on muscles and tendons and cause injury. Running in the proper shoes will insure that your feet are supported, which in turn protects your ankles, knees, hips and spine.”
Dr. Bell recommends changing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles, as the support in the shoe will wear out over time and put you at risk for injury. You can check the soles of your shoes to see if the treads are worn significantly in certain areas.
- Running too far or too fast, too soon.
“When your muscles fatigue, they don’t support your joints properly, making you more prone to injury,” says Dr. Bell. “Jumping in too quickly will likely lead to fatigue and a shortened training session. One suggested guideline is increasing your distance, intensity or duration by 10 percent per week. Another way to build up your endurance is to use a walk/run program, where you can exercise the same number of minutes but alternate running and walking. Then, you can slowing wean out the walking portion over time.”
- Ignoring your body when it tells you to rest.
“If you ignore when your body tells you to rest, you may be ignoring signals like dehydration, overworked muscles and tendons or other serious medical problems,” says Dr. Bell. “If you are concerned about any symptoms you develop while running, contact your physician. If you have medical problems like high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, you can contact your doctor prior to starting your exercise program for advice on how to stay safe while getting in shape.”
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