Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue | Page 22

Holistic Health

How to reduce the risk of running injuries

A varied exercise routine will help

Running is a popular exercise as most people can do it without going to the gym or buying special equipment . All you need are running shoes and you ’ re ready to hit the pavement . But without the right prepartion injuries could be just around the corner , especially as you age , so it ’ s important to take preventive measures .

The first thing to do is to combine running with other types of exercise .
One good practice to prevent injuries is to do routine flexibility exercises to keep the body limber . “ The more flexible your body is , the more range of motion you have and the less injury-prone you become ,” explained exercise physiologist Christopher Travers . He added that yoga could help with flexibility and balance as well as mental focus and relaxation .
As recommended by many experts , coupling running with strengthening exercises is another good workout regimen , one that would also firm up muscle tone , build endurance , and strengthen bone density . A study of Brazilian runners showed that an eight-week programme for foot and ankle strength could reduce injury risk by almost 60 percent compared to those who didn ’ t engage in strength training .
“ In general , strength training should be done three to five times a week for at least 15 minutes each session ,” Dr Jonathan Taylor and Nathan Liddle , lecturers in sports and physiotherapy , respectively , wrote in The Conversation . Lunges and squats are two good options to build endurance , coordination , and balance .
Rest is also crucial to avoid injuries as this gives tissues the chance to repair . Tiredness or feeling under the weather are cues from our body that maybe we should skip a training session to recharge the batteries .
“ Given that injuries are typically the result of a combination of factors – including age , gender , experience and injury history – growing evidence suggests that the best way for runners to avoid injury is to learn how to listen to their bodies ,” they wrote , adding that even people with knee and achilles injuries could keep running without making their pain worse if they listened to their bodies and slightly modified their running style .
They also stressed that quality sleep helped the recovery process as well , meaning runners should get
about seven to nine hours of sleep every night .
It ’ s also important to start by running short distances while gradually increasing them over several weeks . Stepping up distance and intensity in the same week is not a good idea , experts advise .
“ If you are new to running , start off with walking , then progress to walking with short intervals of running — perhaps walking for five minutes and running for one minute , repeated several times ,” Dr Jeffrey Carson , a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic , wrote on its website . “ Gradually increase your running intervals until you can run continuously without pain .”
Before hitting the pavement for the first time , Travers recommends talking to a doctor for further advice . “ They may have some injury prevention suggestions and can address any possible limitations you might have ,” he said .
Rest is also crucial to avoid injuries as this gives tissues the chance to repair .
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