Barb Wheelock, McFarland Clinic physical therapist and avidrunner, shares her tips for new runners on how to be smart, be strong,and be flexible with a new running program.
- Increase your mileage gradually. A good general rule of thumb is a 10% increase/week. Mileage greater than 40 miles/week may result in an increase risk of injuries.
- Include recovery/cross-training. Our bodies need time to adapt to training. Cross-training can include activities such as biking, swimming or strengthening exercises.
- Listen to your body. If your pain gets worse or alters your gait, STOP. If your pain is minimal, take care of yourself by decreasing mileage and/or pace, take more recovery days and use ice. If pain continues, consult with a medical professional.
- Be sure your strengthening program includes leg strengthening exercises. Some research has shown a relationship between a decrease in ITB symptoms and increased hip muscle strength.
- Do your core work. Weak core muscles can lead to less efficient movement and compensations, which can result in injuries.
- Decreased flexibility can lead to decreased circulation and ischemia, which can contribute to overuse injuries.
- Dynamic stretching before running prepares the muscle, connective tissue and joints for the specific activity you will be performing.
- Static stretching can induce weakness in a muscle for up to 30-60 minutes. These exercises are important to help lengthen shortened, tight muscles and are best performed after running when the muscles are warm.