TIPS FOR A LIFETIME OF PAIN-FREE RUNNING
Build up slowly: If you’d like to increase your weekly mileage or the distance of your longest weekly run, add about 10% each week. More than this, and your risk of injury goes up.
Avoid blisters and chaffing: Wear sweat-wicking fabrics including socks to help prevent blisters. Products like Vaseline, Eucerin Aquaphor, and Bodyglide (available at sports stores) can be applied to any place that is prone to friction while you run. Great for your feet, arms, and legs.
Warm-up and Cool down: Always ease into an exercise routine. To get your cardiovascular system ready for the stress of the workout try marching in place, skipping, knee lifts, or foot shuffles. If you’re pressed for time, use the first and last 5-10 minutes of a run as your warm-up and cool-down.
Protect yourself from the sun: Wear sweat-proof sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat when appropriate to keep the sun’s harmful rays from damaging your skin and eyes.
SECRETS FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY
RICE: Rest + Ice + Compression + Elevation (for 24-48 hours). Don’t forget this easy acronym if you have a minor sports injury. Always check with your doctor if you suspect a serious injury, or if RICE doesn’t provide relief.
Biofreeze: Available at the drugstore in roll-on, spray, and gel. This menthol product is a miracle for tight, sore muscles!
Ice-Bath: Submerge your legs in a tub filled with ice and cold water after a tough run or race. (Take a cup of hot tea or cocoa and wear a hat to make it more bearable) If you can last 10-15 minutes your legs will thank you!
Stiffness: Although it may be the last thing you want to do if you’re stiff and sore – go for a walk or very easy jog. Get the blood flowing, and your muscles will recover more quickly and you’ll feel better than if you sit around!
Massage: Consider a massage to help your muscles feel better. On your own, a foam roller or “the Stick” works wonders on sore legs!
“Push through discomfort, STOP FOR PAIN!”
TO STRETCH OR NOT TO STRETCH
The jury is out on stretching…there is no research to support the idea that stretching before a workout prevents injury. However, it is clear that if you want to stretch, save it for AFTER your workout. Do a dynamic (active) warm-up, but never stretch a “cold” muscle, or you risk tearing the muscle and surrounding ligaments and tendons. Recent research shows that stretching can actually decrease muscle strength. However, if flexibility is your goal, stretching can improve your range of motion. In addition, it feels so good!