Running a marathon is not for the fainthearted. The task appears easy, but only to find out it is as painstaking and exhaustive an exercise. Sometimes, you even experience injuries like sprains, fractures, or even simple leg pains. While most often injuries happen due to external factors, unforeseen and circumstantial, some cases are attributed to internal factors like incorrect running posture or lack of warmup. Here are 5 running tips that will help save yourself from intolerable leg pain:
Stretching is necessary. Yet this is not to say that you can stretch in any way you want, lest it does more harm than good. In some cases, especially when the warm-up exercises are too physically draining, your muscles become too tired to function during the event proper. One best way to prepare for a running event is to conduct dynamic stretching.
In a recent study done among soccer players, dynamic stretching proved to be an important factor in enhancing the jumping skills and sprinting time of the players, unlike static or stationary stretching. More so, stretching must be performed a day (or 24 hours) before the actual performance.
Dynamic stretches are better because they, in a way, simulate running. The same muscles used when running are being activated, warmed up during dynamic stretching. This way, your body becomes better prepared.
Use your forefoot
The key is with how you use your feet to run. Run on your forefoot, not on your heel. In a 2013 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, it was found that forefoot strikers, compared to heel strikers, had less patellofemoral stress. This suggests that there is always a way to avoid knee injuries with the right foot maneuvers.
Your body is better able to absorb shock when you use your forefoot, as the position is naturally inclined to lean forward, not backward. Going with the natural flow of the body enables your ligaments and muscles around the ankle area to serve as shock absorbers, thus minimizing the impact on your knees. To practice, you may perform jumping jacks or jumping with a rope and pay attention to how you land.
Increase the Frequency of your Stride
There is a formula to follow when it comes to running. Particularly, running speed is equal to stride frequency plus stride length. In order to run faster, then you have to manipulate either of the two given factors. While stride length may not be easily changeable, this being a function of your physical built, the least you can alter is your frequency. Take quicker, more controlled steps with your feet firm on the ground. A study showed that quicker stances decrease stress on the knees and hips, thus preventing pain and injuries.
Engage in Core and Leg Exercises
Australia currently experienced a jogging or a running boom in the last ten years. A major factor for the increase is the participation of women and rise of fitness apps. As research shows, in the last decade, the number of Australians joining marathons has increased from 2.3% to 4%. Note that this holds true not only for recreational jogging but even more so for competitive running. Given the trend, strengthening the runner’s core and leg will significantly help the rise of running-related injuries.
Examples of core exercises include weight lifting, planking, yoga, and squats. Deadlifts, specifically, help ease lower back pain as it strengthens without imposing stress on your spinal erectors. Also, as a study shows, anterior cruciate ligament or ACL injury can be best remedied with proper and consistent core training that enhances the patient’s running gait.
Meanwhile, examples of glute and hamstring exercises include kettlebell swings and leg raises. These exercises simulate the running movements so your preparation becomes optimum.
Eat Right and Stand Right
Leg cramps are sometimes caused by mineral and vitamin deficiency. So just as you mind your training, pay attention to your diet. Eat foods rich in calcium, potassium, protein, and magnesium such as bananas, melon, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and beans. Also, don’t forget to hydrate with a bottle of water all throughout the day.
Also, when it comes to posture, it pays to correct issues like overarching or slouching before embarking on a running activity. With poor posture, spinal pressure when running becomes a common problem, consequently affecting your leg and hip movements.
Running is a great exercise, just make sure you do it right. The 5 simple tips above will help you get through your long running years.