With the warmer weather, many runners are getting back outside running. And some are thinking about entering one of the many 5K races out there. If you’re newer to running or if you need a few reminders after the long winter about how to train for a race or want to know the proper way to stretch, we have a physical therapist here to help explain what’s fact and what’s fiction behind some common running myths.
MYTH 1: Stretching before running will prevent injury
Stretching isn’t bad, but it’s best to stretch after your run. You want tightness and tension in your muscles during your run and a good warm up is the best way to prevent injury. Start with a walk, then a light jog, then a run.
How to do effective stretching:
- Avoid aggressive stretching prior to sports activity
- Stretch warm muscles
- Stretch to the point of tension and not pain
MYTH 2: Running more miles is the best way to train
- Gradually increase your mileage. Increase 10 percent per week.
- Work up to the desired distance.
- Do core conditioning and cross training one to two times per week. You need some downtime from running.
MYTH 3: Everyone should run with the same form
We all have different bodies. Trends come and go. Run the way that feels best to you. Some people do better with a fore foot strike and some do better with a rear foot strike. If you have repetitive injuries consult with a physical therapist for treatment or to improve your form.
MYTH 4: Running will lead to arthritis
Developing arthritis depends on the type of connective tissue you were born with. If you have poor connective tissue or a family history of arthritis or an autoimmune disorder, you’re more likely to develop arthritis.
MYTH 5: Specialized drinks and supplements are the key to improving performance
- Sports drinks can be effective for exercise that lasts longer than one hour. You can hydrate sufficiently with water, and avoid the calories and chemicals, etc.
- Energy Drinks are full of sugar and caffeine which can increase nervousness and dehydration.
- Balanced diets will provide the nutrients we need to stay active and competitive. Supplements aren’t necessary.
Proprioception exercise is a great way to improve your running mechanics
Proprioception is essentially your ability to sense your body in the space around it. For example, even with your eyes closed, you know where your hand is in the space around it. Proprioception exercise is good for anybody at any age. You do it by standing on one leg. It helps engage your muscle receptors and fire them at the right time. When you run you are on one leg briefly, so this is an excellent exercise for runners and also a great way to improves overall function and body mechanics.
Start with the basic exercise standing on one leg in a doorway, then there are several ways to increase the difficulty, by moving away from the doorway, closing your eyes or standing on an uneven surface or throwing or catching a ball. For an uneven surface, you can use a pillow to stand on or a BOSU ball.