Running is an amazing form of exercise…unless you get injured. Here are 10 common mistakes that cause runner’s problems and the quick-fix suggestions that will help runs go more smoothly.
1. You skip resistance training
A proper strength program will support and strengthen both the muscles and connective tissue that allows your body to run. Incorporate some form of resistance training into your routine at least once a week.
2. You wear the wrong shoes
Shoes should be picked out to support your individual anatomy—head to a specialty store for the best possible fitting support. It’s also important to remember that, for frequent runners, shoes will need replacing every few months or else you leave yourself susceptible to impact and overuse injuries.
3. You wear the wrong clothes
Clothing that’s too tight or not the right type of fabric can cause problems for runners, especially when it comes to socks. For long distance training, choose socks that can wick sweat away from feet (this will help avoid athlete’s foot) without being so slick they can lead to blisters.
4. You don’t foam roll
Foam rolling takes your stretching from static to dynamic, giving muscles a more effective warm up and/or cool down. If you’re unfamiliar with foam rolling techniques, many gyms offer classes or instructions on how to make the most of these seemingly simple devices.
5. You skimp on H2O
Drink before, during and after your runs (in moderation) to avoid muscle cramps and other dehydration-related discomfort.
6. Your stride ain’t right
If you think that taking a long stride will make you a faster, more effective runner, think again: long strides increase pressure on your muscles and cause you to tire out at a faster rate. To avoid injury and fatigue, shoot for a rate of between 160-180 steps per minute. Fitness apps can easily help you keep track of your progress.
7. You stick to the treadmill
Treadmill runs are too smooth and simple—outdoor training allows you to encounter uneven surfaces, helping train your feet and ankles to become strong and flexible. Even in bad weather, try to get outdoors for at least one of your weekly training sessions.
8. You run through the pain
Pain is your body’s signal that something has gone awry. If you choose to ignore these signals, existing injuries may worsen. When running hurts, make the smart decision to take a few days off and rest or explore a different form of exercise.
9. You don’t use your arms
Proper arm movement can support a run and take some of the pressure off the legs, feet and ankles. Ideal form? As one leg moves behind you, the opposite arm swings forward to counterbalance. The more you swing your arms, the faster your legs will go.
10. You run too far and fast
Even upping your training mileage by one mile each week, or shaving a minute off your time, can quickly lead to overuse injuries. Though it may not feel like it, slow and steady training is safest and best, allowing muscles to adjust and build strength enough to support newer, greater challenges.