Your Health: Top tips to help you make the most of your run

It is important to warm up and stretch before you run
It is important to warm up and stretch before you run

Whether you are new to running and doing Couch to 5K or preparing for your 20th marathon and a seasoned all weather runner, this time of year, as the days get longer and the clocks go forward, it’s lovely to be able to get out more. But before you up that mileage, remember that where injuries are concerned prevention is better than cure!

So before you head out for a run, here’s some advice to help you on your way:

Improve and maintain your flexibility; Daily stretching is essential to improve and maintain flexibility, which in turn will help improve performance and prevent injuries. Stretching should be done after you warm up your muscles – usually about 10 minutes of warm up. Stretching should never be done in a hurry and should include all joints. Each stretch should be held in place for 30 seconds without bouncing.

Include strength training in your running programme; It improves a runner’s body strength and overall athleticism. This in turn reduces muscular fatigue that leads to poor performance and injuries. Strength training exercises should focus on all muscle groups including the trunk, upper and lower body.

Stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet; Avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration by hydrating two hours prior to practice or competition. Studies suggest that you need 200 ml of fluids for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.

Warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races; The faster the workout or race, the longer the warm up needed. A warm up of five-10 minutes helps to flush out lactic acid build-up in muscles and prevents muscle soreness.

Gradually increase your mileage; Good aerobic activity is the foundation of your running performance, slowly build up the amount of training you do along with bumping up the intensity. The progression should not be a steady increase in volume and intensity, but instead should be a staircase progression with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during a training period, season, or year. Increases in training volume, duration and intensity should be a gradual increase of five-10 per cent per week.

Cross-train and include rest days in your training schedule; This helps to maintain your aerobic fitness while avoiding excessive impact forces from too much running. Including rest days allows your body to recover and adapt to a running workout.

Talk with a running expert or coach to analyse your training programme; Overtraining, running injuries and poor performances are often the result of an ineffective programme. A good running coach or personal trainer can help you develop an appropriate training schedule to meet your goals and prevent injury.

Wear the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and running style; Not all running shoes are made alike. The type of shoe you need varies depending upon your foot type and style of running. A sports store that specialises in athletic footwear may be able to help you, or visit a podiatrist for professional advice.

Have a formal gait analysis performed and use orthotics if recommended; Poor foot biomechanics such as heel strike, excessive pronation, or a very rigid or very flexible foot arch can lead to inefficiency and injuries. Most runners can control these problems by carefully selecting the right shoe type or by seeing a podiatrist who can analyse your running gait and make orthotic inserts specific to your foot structure.

Have your running form evaluated by a running expert. A Physiotherapist trained in running biomechanics can help detect flaws in your running form and show you how to correct them. We use video analysis which is very helpful.

Don’t ignore injuries and niggles. Many runners try to run through injuries and worry that a physio will tell them to stop running. This is rarely the case. A good physio will work with you to keep you training while dealing with the root cause of the injury and often your times improve with our treatment.

The team at Physio & Therapies is holding a free runners event on Tuesday, March 14 from 6pm–9pm. For more information, call 01706 819464.