Break Those Bad Running Habits

Houston podiatrist discusses the importance of stretching before runningDon’t we all have bad habits we want to break? As a runner, I know there bad habits associated with runners in general. But in order to become a better and healthier runner we need to break these habits. In Houston, TX, it is easy to cut corners. We often drive to the park to run and are in a rush to get home. It is also usually too hot to spend more time outside than necessary.

The most notorious of all bad habits runners have is not stretching. Many of us don’t have time to include a stretch after a run. We think we know our bodies and don’t need to stretch, especially after our runs. We don’t know our bodies like we think we do.

Stretching is important because it benefits our muscles and our bodies. Not stretching after a run tightens our muscles and increases our chances of developing running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, pulled muscles and muscle tears. Stretching improves our flexibility, decreases recovery time, speeds up healing and most importantly helps prevent injuries. These benefits are key to enhance our running ability and to enable our bodies to run faster and farther. So after a run, make stretching a must, because that is when our muscles get the most benefit from it. Some runners even add on a yoga class to enhance their flexibility and to help stretch muscles we would not normally stretch.

Another bad habit that many runners have is not resting enough. As a dedicated runner, I typically run every day and may skip running only once a month. It’s a must for me to find a place and time to run everyday and when I don’t get my daily run in I don’t feel the same. I lose my energy and drive for the day until I get my run in. But over-running can also be a bad habit. It can cause soreness, injuries, irritable moods, and decreased immunity.

Rest is an important part of any training program because it allows both your body to recover and to rebuild. When we allow our body to recover we are able to enhance our performance as both our cardiovascular and muscular systems are rebuilding themselves for an increase in power and endurance. So by incorporating a few rest days, you will improve your performance and your body mechanics. If you have to be active, take a rest day to cross train by taking a nice bike ride outdoors, take a stroll with a friend, or even playing other sports. This can be a nice break from running.

As an avid runner, I know that stretching and resting both help to prevent injury and help to enhance performance by loosening up tight muscles and to allow the body to recover. Try to add stretching after runs to prevent muscles from tightening and add in rest days to allow your body to recover from a run. If you are noticing prolonged  muscle soreness, however, it's always best to get it checked. Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an evaluation.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.