Sunday, April 01, 2007
Ready to Run?
Dr. Anthony Luke , Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, practices what he preaches. I'm delighted that one of San Francisco's premier sports medicine specialists has agreed to share his expertise as our guest blogger.
Spring is here! Though the Bay Area allows people to run all year, many people here and around the country are putting on their running shoes and heading for their local trails. What steps can you take to run safely and try to prevent injuries?
Warm up before running. Jogging at 1/2 or 2/3 speed for 2 or 3 minutes before getting in your normal running pace can warm up the muscles which has been shown to improve flexibility and resistance to stretch injuries.
Stretch for flexibility during your cool down. Spend a few minutes stretching the major muscle groups when you are done, for example, the calf muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and iliotibial bands. Research really hasn't shown that stretching before exercise prevents injuries. However, tight muscle groups have been associated with several injuries. Studies have shown that one stretch of 30 seconds is better than three times at 10 seconds and as good as three times at 30 seconds. So hold each stretch for 30 seconds at least once and move on to the next.
Strengthening. Important muscles to strengthen for runners include the calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings and the gluteal muscles! People often forget the muscles that rotate the hip, which are important stabilizers for the leg. Also, core stability is key so work on your abdominals. The large exercise balls are excellent training tools.
Get the right shoes. Go to a store that has salespeople experienced with runners and proper shoe fitting. The soles of most running shoes have a lifespan for around 400-500 miles.
Fluids and Fuels. Keep track of your diet. Replacing necessary energy using carbohydrate sources such as gels or bars are needed especially when you're running longer than 90 minutes. Proper hydration before, during and after running is essential. You should learn how much fluid you need during your training runs and alter things depending on how hot the weather is.
1) have pain greater than 2 hours
2) have swelling
3) need to change your running technique
Take a break. Try cross training on a bike or swimming. If you rest for a week and still can' run, it's time to talk to someone who knows about running injuries. Your local sports medicine expert can help.