Running for Fitness: The Do’s and Don’ts

So you have decided to run for fitness…..Great Choice! Running is a really great full-body exercise; it helps reduce fat buildup, increases stamina and endurance levels and does wonders for your health by enhancing cardiovascular function and improving muscle and ligament flexibility. Running is the perfectly affordable way to exercise anywhere, anytime.

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But here is the tricky part – running the wrong way can do you more harm than good. It increases odds for injury through bad form, especially stress on joints. It also can result in overheating of the body if you aren’t careful and can sometimes also be dangerous, especially if you choose to run after sundown.

So here are some basic rules for runners who are beginners. These Do’s and Don’ts of Running will ensure that get the most benefit from your runs every day, without any risk factor involved.

The Do’s:

 

 

Start with a basic stretching routine. Warm Up is crucial for Injury Prevention
Start with a basic stretching routine. Warm Up is crucial for Injury Prevention

Start Slow – Whether you are a beginner or a pro, running without a warm up is never a good idea. Start with walking; a brisk walk warms up your muscles and prepares them for more strenuous exercise. Starting slow with a walk, moving in to a slight jog and then in to a steady pace run will help you lower exertion level, rather than jolting your body into action without it being prepared for the same. Similarly, at the end of your run, don’t just stop abruptly. Few minutes of light jogging or walking will slowly decrease body temperature while it will also remove waste products from the working muscles and help them relax.

 

 

Stretch your muscles – It’s extremely important to stretch both before and after a run. Basic stretches done before a run will not only warm up the body up but also improve flexibility and reduce chances of injury by increasing their range of movement. Relaxing gentle stretches done after a run will relieve pain that comes from the physical stress of running, and ensure that your muscles are loosened and relaxed before you hit the shower.

 

 

Comfortable running gear and good form are both more important than you think
Comfortable running gear and good form are both more important than you think

 

Pay attention to running outfit – Make sure that when you run, you wear lose comfortable clothing that breathes easily and isn’t restrictive in any way. Tight clothing will trap perspiration and result in overheating as well as chafing. For women, a supportive sports bra is a must. Breast movement while running can cause upper body tension and result in terrible backaches. And a bra that doesn’t restrict breast movement will also result in painful chafing. Look for a bra with wide straps, full cups and a snug fit to give the girls maximum support.

 

 

Maintain good form – The key to any good workout is maintaining proper form. Keep your head held up as this will align the rest of the body perfectly. Never look down at the road or your feet while you run, as this increases chances of injury. Keep your shoulders in and your arms relaxed. Excessive arm movements are never recommended while running; instead keep arms at approx 90 degree angles and never clench your fists. Poor form will invariable result in knee and back pain, so it’s important that you pay close attention to how you land on your feet. In other words – monitor your stride. Avoid over-striding; the excessive rotation moves the pelvis and spine in one direction more than the other, resulting in misalignments and back aches. A good rule is to keep your strides about the same distance as you would during normal walking. You must also focus on distributing weight across your entire foot, not just the heel. Also make sure that you always land on your heel when running. Running on your toes will quickly lead to shin splints and other injuries.

 

 

Give yourself Recovery time  post a run. Never continue running if you are in pain.
Give yourself Recovery time post a run. Never continue running if you are in pain.

 

Take care of yourself and stay challenged – As your stamina grows, try to run a little extra or maybe even a little faster. Make sure you don’t overexert yourself as that again will increase chances of injury. The key is to become a master at Speed – try to incorporate running intervals of shorter distances at a faster pace rather than trying to run faster throughout the session and overextend yourself. Listen to your body and run at a pace that is comfortable for you. However, should you have injuries, take care of yourself and never run when in pain. To recover from an injury, try R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

 

 

Practice breathing technique – The reason most beginners tire too fast is because their breathing is not even. Practice to breathe in and out when your dominant foot (be it left or right) hits the ground. If you don’t regulate your breathing, your body doesn’t get the increased supply of oxygen your muscles need desperately for a highly beneficial workout.

 

 

If you want to become a confident runner, investing in a pair of high quality Running Shoes is very important
If you want to become a confident runner, investing in a pair of high quality Running Shoes is very important

 

Invest in good running shoes – The right shoes are a must for runners. Our feet usually pronate naturally, where the arches flatten and supinate, and then rise in sync. When that doesn’t happen, you need a good supportive shoe to avoid pain in the heels and arches. Get an affordable, supportive shoe that ensures better shock absorption while you run and make sure you change and upgrade your shoe as soon as it starts to show signs of wear and tear.

 

The Don’ts:

Remember to run in a shaded park and stay hydrated. overheating while running can be not only uncomfortable but also dangerous
Remember to run in a shaded park and stay hydrated. Overheating while running can be not only uncomfortable but also dangerous

Take overheating lightly – Whether it is not staying hydrated or wearing clothing that doesn’t allow heat to escape while you exert, excessive overheating while you run can be dangerous. Many joggers prefer to wear a cap; be it to keep the sun out of their eyes or keep their hair clean when running in polluted areas. But a cap can keep the heat from being released through the best vent you have, the top of your head. It’s best to keep your head cool; run in a shaded park if you must or during early morning/evening when there is light outside but not harsh enough to irritate your eyes. Also, stay cool by staying hydrated.

Take painkillers to mask pain – If you have suffered from a running injury, which is pretty common for beginners, never take a pain killer and continue running. An injury requires you to rest, not ignore it for temporary relief. Rather than running practice yoga, swimming or a stationary bike to keep up your fitness levels until you recover.

If you are going to run in the dark, make sure you wear light reflective clothing and avoid running alone
If you are going to run in the dark, make sure you wear light reflective clothing and avoid running alone

Run unprepared in the dark – While its best to run when there is still light out, sometimes your schedule just cannot fit a run during the day or even early evenings. The bad news is that not only are you susceptible to crime, you are also more susceptible to accidents as its harder to notice trash or rocks sitting in your running path at night, which means there is a high chance of tripping and hurting yourself. Also, it can be hard for bikers or cars to see you on badly lit roads, and as you can imagine, that’s extremely dangerous! If you still want to run at night despite all these dangers, make sure you have a running partner, wear reflective clothing, always have your cell phone with you, and run against traffic so there is lesser chance of being hit from behind.

Eat a big meal before your run – A heavy meal takes longer to digest and hence can put extra stress on your system when you exercise. Make sure that your pre-run meal is light and healthy, so that it can be easily digested. You can have a more filling meal once you are done with your run, and your muscles needs the extra fat, carbs and protein to repair and maintain anyways.

 fitness-ladies-running

Running is an excellent way to stay fit. However, make sure that while you keep yourself challenged, you don’t go overboard. It’s never a good idea to come home huffing and puffing and unable to move after every single run. And do make sure that you incorporate Recovery Days to prevent over-exertion and injuries. Follow these simple rules to ensure that your running experience is always enjoyable and productive!

12 Comments Add yours

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