As much as I push it, some people still don’t recognize that exercise is vital to our overall health and longevity. Maybe they don’t want to recognize it. I get it, the gym can be an intimidating place, not to mention an expensive one.
But what if I said there is a way to work out that is free and doesn’t require any equipment?
I just lost half the readers. Running requires so little from us, no fancy equipment or monthly memberships that are impossible to cancel. We don’t even need a final destination, just some sneakers and a sense of adventure.
Plus, that runner’s high is real.
As a chiropractor for plantar fasciitis, I know that a runner’s high is not always enough to distract from achy muscles, low back pain, strains and sprains, heel pain, or bursitis that running can trigger. Whether we take to the trail every day or just want to get out of the house and get our sweat on, these nine running tips will keep us injury free and leave our nosy neighbor Denise in our dust.
And no, this doesn’t mean cue up the Beyonce album, put the hair in a high pony, and guzzle an iced coffee.
As much as we’d like to lace up our sneaks and hit the open road, not warming up first will land us with a pulled muscle, a sprained ankle, or feeling exhausted before we even get started.
We want to get the blood flowing and the heart rate up, and gently rouse the muscles and joints before we throw them into the proverbial deep end. This could mean walking briskly for a few minutes before transitioning to a jog, dynamic stretching like yoga, or something more elementary, like jumping jacks, squats, or butt kicks. Don’t drag jumping jacks, they’re more useful than one might think.
2. Set a Goal and Run Consistently
Even though it might not feel like it, a consistent exercise pattern is more important than impressing Denise every time we run past her.
I promise! Establishing a goal helps to motivate us and improve our form and endurance. That goal could be running a marathon or just getting outside for 30 minutes to feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. We should all aspire to get wrapped up in the positive feedback loop of goals and consistency.
3. Interval Training
Interval training is one of the best ways to burn fat and lose weight.
Interval training is short, high-intensity bursts of exercise followed by slow recovery over and over until our Fabletics are soaked. This kind of exercise is perfect for people who can only focus for 30 seconds at a time.
Thirty seconds of a full-out sprint, 85-100% maximum effort, then 30 seconds of walking or a slow jog, then rinse and repeat. 10 – 30 minutes of that cycle will have us feeling svelt.
I can laud the benefits of running all day, but we don’t want to become a one-trick pony. Incorporating other workouts into our routine will help us strengthen muscles that don’t get used when running and give those we use a freaking break. Remember, rest is key to preventing injury!
Swimming, cycling, and strength training are all great complements to running. Not to mention yoga and pilates to stretch the muscles and keep the core tight.
5. Fuel Up
Trying to exercise without the proper fuel is like riding the teacups at Six Flags during a friend’s 30th birthday party on a dare – it leaves us with sweat, regret, and possible dry heaves.
Our body needs the right fuel mix to energize our workouts and help with recovery. When we’re headed out for a run, we should eat one to two hours before our session and then 20 to 45 minutes after. A lot is learned through trial and error, but generally speaking, it’s good to stick to carbs for a nice energy boost. Stay away from anything difficult to digest – like fat, spicy food, and fiber – so the body can focus on the run.
6. Choose Footwear Wisely
Choosing the right supportive shoes is tantamount to avoiding the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Especially if we’re cursed with flat feet. Going to a running store and having a professional properly fit us for shoes that support our arch will save us a world of hurt, and possibly our toenails. There are many things to consider when buying running shoes that aren’t obvious to a novice, like that we want to go a size up because our feet will swell during the run.
One thing I don’t recommend is succumbing to the new minimalist lifestyle of those five-toed shoes that mimic bare feet. Studies show these shoes increase the risk of injury and plantar fasciitis pain. They also look idiotic.
7. Run With Open Eyes
It seems obvious, but the world is distracting. And so is the Charlie XCX playlist we put together for motivation. Also, running is a high-impact sport that puts our joints and tendons under a lot of stress.
Running on grass will help reduce that stress, but it can be a bit tricky. We know Mr. Thompson doesn’t like to mow his lawn, and Mrs. Miller doesn’t pick up after her dog.
Running on the road is better if we’re training for a race to mimic the conditions we’ll face on race day. Just keep an eye open for potholes. And sinkholes. And cars.
Treadmills are smooth and even but painfully dull.
Sidewalks may be the only option available, but they are also the least forgiving on our joints.
8. Run With Open Ears
Our bodies are constantly speaking to us. Not just our stomachs but our entire body. Pain is our body’s way of saying:
None of us are trying to win any medals or save a soldier behind enemy lines; we don’t need to push through the pain.
Stretching seems boring, but our muscles deserve a good stretch after a workout. Most of us are used to sitting every day, and even though our bodies crave movement, they aren’t getting enough of it these days. Adding a foam roller, or rolling the bottom of our feet with a tennis ball if we suffer from plantar fasciitis, is a great way to speed up recovery and improve our flexibility to prevent injury.
Movement is essential to life; it’s what our bodies were designed to do. As a chiropractor, I’ve seen many patients sidelined by pain and mobility issues preventing them from exercising or even just carrying out the most straightforward everyday task. Chiropractic care not only improves athletic performance, just ask any professional football player, but it can also improve the functionality of even the least athletic individual.
Nothing beats the holistic approach of chiropractic care, whether searching for plantar fasciitis pain relief or trying to prevent it. No pain medications, no side effects, just effective strategies to relieve pain. Give us a call or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors today. Get off the sidelines and dive head-first into the fray!