Start moving for fun and fitness
Hitting the track or jumping on the treadmill is a great way to get in shape. If you’re not already a runner, however, starting to run may seem intimidating.
Start with a slow jog
Instead of racing a 5K for your first run, Dr. Fellow recommends starting out slow and light or easy—perhaps at 10 percent of your capacity for 10 minutes—to prevent injury and excessive soreness. Every 10 days or so, increase the distance and/or speed you run by 10 percent. Run only one to three days per week to start out, and build up to your goals over time. The goal is to keep running, not just run one race.
Starting out on softer surfaces (like a treadmill or track) instead of pavement can also prevent strain or injury to new runners.
Get the right running gear
“You may run differently than you walk or stand,” notes Dr. Fellow. “One of the best ways to see what your feet are doing is to have someone record you running from the front, sides and back. Take time to really look at your posture, alignment and what your feet and body are doing during your stride.” There are also several running stores that offer running shoe evaluations, although you may not be able to rely on 100% accuracy. If you notice any increased pain or discomfort after you have been running for a while, have your stride reevaluated.
Once you know how your foot is striking the ground, you can get the right shoes to meet your stride. Change running shoes every three months or 300 miles; the cushioning breaks down over time.
Preventing orthopedic injury
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t stretch or vary their workouts,” says Dr. Fellow. “I recommend a balanced approach and low-impact activities like cross training, biking, elliptical training or swimming. Runners, like all athletes, need to customize their stretches.” He added, “Think and do two or three: front and back, right and left or other tandems.”
Soreness can accompany any physical activity, but think twice if it persists or worsens for more than a couple of days or limits your activities. To reduce pain or soreness, stretch before, during and after a run. Ice your muscles after strenuous activities, and/or try applying heat even before running. Warm up and cool down the pace also. Taking an anti-inflammatory, like naproxen or ibuprofen, can also help reduce pain and minor swelling. Know how and when to use each of the above “tools” properly.
If pain goes beyond typical post-workout soreness, causes dysfunction, limping, or causes other pains, it is time to call your doctor.
Find a sports medicine physician
If you haven’t exercised in a while or have a chronic condition that makes it challenging to workout, talk to a physician about your fitness goals. If you need help finding a doctor, call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777) to talk one of our physician referral specialists.
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