For anyone new to running, nothing matters more than a continuous focus on injury prevention. Along with shin splints, there are hundreds of painful and potentially debilitating conditions that accompany poor exercise regimes/techniques.
To ensure you stay safe and enjoy your active lifestyle, the following injury-prevention guidelines come highly recommended:
1. Never Skip Warm-Ups
No matter how much of a hurry you may be in, you must never exercise before performing a sufficient warm up. Warming up the joints and muscles helps prevent the kind of damage that can be irreparable. Stretching, shaking and generally loosening yourself up prior to each run should be considered mandatory.
2. Know Your Limits
One guaranteed way of suffering injuries while running is to push yourself beyond your limits. You and you alone can determine where your limits lie, just as you take full responsibility for ensuring you don’t exceed them. Taking your time and gradually building your performance capacity is far better than risking painful injury.
3. Get Plenty of Rest
Your muscles and joints need adequate time to rest and recuperate after each run. Even if you feel physically and mentally capable of dealing with another workout, try to avoid exercising too soon after the last run. Listen to your body and give it all the time it needs to recharge and rebuild itself.
4. Buy Quality Gear
One of the most rewarding aspects of getting into running is the excuse to head out and treat yourself to some quality gear. Make no mistake about it – the quality and appropriateness of the gear you choose will have a huge impact on your capacity to avoid injury. Don’t roll the dice with substandard or ill-fitting running gear under any circumstances. Consider getting a pair of aZengear compression socks or calf sleeves to enrich your running wardrobe.
5. Stick to Safe Surfaces
The best surfaces for safe running are grass trails, dirt, specialist tracks and softer surfaces in general. Concrete is generally best-avoided, due to the more severe strain and impact on your joints, bones and muscles. In addition, running downhill or uphill should also be avoided where possible.
6. Work Your Whole Body
Along with running, it’s also good to get into other activities that give the rest of your body an effective workout. Hitting the gym on occasion comes highly recommended, as does lifting weights, cycling and swimming. The fitter your whole body is, the lower the risk of injury.
7. Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs
The moment you experience any kind of pain or discomfort that seems out of the ordinary, expert advice should be sought. Rather than ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away, arrange a consultation with your doctor or physiotherapist as soon as possible. While there’s every chance it will prove to be minor and of no concern, it’s crucial to rule out anything more severe.
8. Stay Healthy
Last but not least, your overall state of health and wellbeing will have a direct impact on your likelihood of experiencing a variety of running injuries. Watch what you eat, avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, get plenty of sleep, remain adequately hydrated at all times and keep tabs on your intake of key vitamins and minerals.