When I first started running back in 1995 I didn’t really know that there were a few things to watch out for so you didn’t hurt yourself. I hurt my knee when I was 16 and never really knew why until I picked it up again in recent years. For those trying to lose weight or become more fit, here are the few things I’ve learned over the years:
- Stretch: Stretch before and after you run. Sit on the ground, tuck one leg under so your foot touches your other thigh and touch your toes on the leg that is outstretched (or try your best). Do this for the other side. Second, make a butterfly shape with your legs by touching your feet together and stretch your hands past your feet. Third, lift your leg behind you holding on to your ankle. Forth, stretch both legs out and touch your ankles or feet. Do each of these for at least 15 seconds.
- Find the right shoe for you. Look at the bottom of your current shoes. Where is the wear, on the inside or outside of the shoe? I found out I was supinated, which is when you wear out the outside of your tennis shoes and I ended up having pain on the outside of my legs around the ankles and shins after I exercised. Once you figure out if you are pronated, neutral or supinated, get the right shoe for you so you’ll have less pain. This has helped me significantly whether I’m walking, using the elliptical or running.
- Posture: Swing your arms front and back, not cross them in front of you. Keep your arms bent at a comfortable, loose L shape. Also, have loose shoulders so you don’t have shoulder pain. Keep your head up and level, not strained, looking out to the horizon so your don’t have neck pain. Great free video to illustrate this whole process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRkeBVMQSgg
- Balance your weight: This might be difficult for those of you that dominate on one side of the body. I found my right side would hurt after running (hips, knee, shoulder and back). My right side would do much of the pulling and get most of the impact and this was happening automatically. My left side would feel perfectly fine and light as a cloud. Actively think about balancing the two sides, emphasizing the non-dominant side. Actively think that your non-dominant side has to pull its own weight.
Practice makes perfect, you might have to pay attention to your posture and balancing for a while before it becomes automatic. When you stretch and balance everything out you’ll experience less pain and actually have more endurance because your dominant side isn’t doing all the work anymore. My knee, back, shoulders, neck and hips don’t hurt anymore after running, so it is possible to correct for these common issues. Happy running!
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