Preventing Injury for First-Time Runners

preventing injury
By Fara Rosenzweig

You just bought a brand-new pair of running shoes and you're excited to get started-awesome! But don't aim for your first 10K just yet. Slow and steady wins the race as a first-time runner. These tips will help you increase your mileage at a safe pace while staying injury free.

Stretch

One of the most often overlooked aspects of running is stretching-especially before hitting the pavement. This one simple action will keep your muscles loose, allowing you to use them to their full potential.

The key with pre-run stretching is to use dynamic (moving) stretches, rather than static (still) stretches. Here are a few dynamic stretches for your pre-run routine. Do 8 reps of each exercise for 2 to 3 rounds.

  • Jump squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Skaters

Rest

While being excited to run every day is a great thing-it means you're motivated to hit the pavement, which is important-it's crucial that you give your body time to rest.

Running weakens your muscles temporarily, and they need rest in order to work properly on your next run. Your immune system is also compromised after running, especially long distances. If you run without rest you risk the chance of overtraining and contracting a cold.

Increase Mileage Slowly

Your muscles aren't strong enough yet to take on a long run. Slowly build your mileage, or running time, to ensure you're strengthening your muscles without over doing it.

To do so, follow the 10 percent rule (10PR), which suggests increasing your mileage by 10 percent each week. Why? "The 10PR gains its importance from the fact that the vast majority of running injuries are overuse injuries. They occur when you run too much or increase your weekly training program too quickly," says Amby Burfoot of Runner's World.

Remember Strength Training

While your muscles will become stronger as you increase your mileage, you need to be sure you're keeping your knees and ankles mobile by strengthening the joints and muscles around them. Add the following exercises to a once- or twice-weekly workout. Do 10 to 12 reps of each exercise for 2 to 3 rounds.

  • Lunges
  • Plank (hold for 30 to 60 seconds)
  • Squat with overhead press
  • Stability ball hip extension
  • Woodchops

You can't enjoy running if you're sidelined for injuries. Use these tips to stay injury-free and enjoy your new found love for this sport.

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