Running Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy and Injury-Free
When someone gets into running as an activity, there’s typically one thing they primarily want to do: keep on running!
And as podiatrists, we love to see that. Consistent physical activity can have significant benefits for the feet and ankles, from building strength and endurance to maintaining circulatory health. We want you to keep moving, and to avoid any sports injuries and other hang-ups that get in the way.
Unfortunately, engaging in just about any activity always brings with it at least a small risk of injury, and it’s possible to be so ambitious about running that your chances of facing trouble become much higher – at least if you don’t take some sensible precautions, that is.
Whether you have just discovered the joys of running or have been racking up miles for some time now, never lose sight of the ways to reduce your risk of injury. They can help you avoid problems that may trip you up for extended periods of time, keeping your passion and power high well through the future.
Do NOT Overtrain
These types of situations are tragic: a beginning runner wants to be in prime shape for their first big event, or a seasoned runner wants to hit a new personal best by a certain point in time. They try to get there by increasing the intensity of their workout plans too much, too soon, and end up getting hit with an injury that sets them back to square one.
While challenging your body is the only way to improve your performance, it is essential to exercise patience and moderation when doing so. This can be especially true for running, where the repetitive impacts of your feet against trails or pavement can contribute to overuse injuries.
Our bodies are conditioned to take only so much stress and exertion at any given point. Go too hard too quickly, or persist for too much time without giving your body enough opportunity to rest and rebuild, and the chances of injuries such as Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures rise dramatically.
Although it might initially feel counter to your ambitions, start any new training program at a low intensity (even lower than you expect you can likely handle) and gradually work your way upward, typically about a 10% increase in time or distance per week.
But that said…
Listen to Your Body
Having a plan is a great way to help ensure you’re not overdoing it, but don’t fall into the trap of feeling that you must always meet its minimum requirements.
Our bodies’ capabilities can change from week to week, and sometimes even a 10% increase might be a bit too much to handle at that time. If you are starting to feel fatigued or strained, never be afraid to dial your intensity back to something that feels more manageable.
Remember that, while “Couch to 5K”-type plans can serve as a helpful general guideline, they are not designed with any knowledge of your personal needs. You know best what your body feels up to, and it will always be better to take more time to reach your goals gradually than to take on too much and experience a blowout.
Also, consider keeping a small record of your workouts, making notes of when you run and how you feel after and between sessions. You might find patterns that can give you (or us) valuable insight as to where adjustments could be made to get more out of your exercise with less risk.
Have a Good Pair of Shoes
If you’re running, you should use running shoes. And yes, that includes if you are just starting out and seeing whether this whole “running” thing is your cup of tea or not.
Running shoes are designed to provide specific support and cushioning relative to the stresses of running. Walking shoes and standard “sneakers” just don’t do that, and can increase your risk of injury.
Different types of running shoes can meet different individual needs of runners based on their stride, arch shape, and factors such as susceptibility to heel pain. A trained sporting goods associate can help you find a proper fit, and we are always happy to help as well if you have extra questions or concerns.
If you want to become a better runner, you should always be running, right? Not exactly.
In addition to the threat of overuse, it also pays to consider overall muscle balance in the body. Even if running primarily fires certain muscles, you are still engaging many others to maintain stability and full function.
Taking some time to focus on these muscles can improve your overall performance while reducing the impact on your feet, ankles, and other oft-used areas. Swimming, biking, and rowing are activities that could fit the bill, but it is always best to consult with us or your primary care physician when considering any sort of cross-training plan.
Take Care of Injuries As Soon as Possible
Experiencing any sort of pain, whether sudden or consistent, can make any aspiring runner’s heart drop. It’s easy in those circumstances to underplay what’s going on in your own mind and just believe it can go away on its own.
But such thinking can actually risk prolonging the problem, making it worse, and damaging your long-term performance. If any sort of sports injury occurs while running, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and start RICE therapy. And if symptoms continue to persist after a day or two, or feel severe, give us a call.
Schedule an appointment at either of our two area locations:
- Ebensburg – (814) 472-2660
- Johnstown – (814) 409-7373
You can also reach out to us electronically by filling out our online contact form.