I spent my college years walking from one building to another to attend classes. I was one of those university kids who didn’t have a car, so I really had no choice. For several years, I spent 15 minutes in between classes walking from one building to another. I needed to walk to go to the library. Then walk back to another building for my electives. And walk back to the main building for lunch. And back to the library. And now that I’m working, I also have to walk from my work place to the train station.
I am not much of a runner, but I know I could endure long walks with minimal interruption. I could do occasional trekking and mountain climbing, not to mention the very long walks I willingly submit myself to when I go shopping. That and when I have the time, I do yoga stretches at home.
I know I’m fit. Or so I thought.
I was doing my usual chores at home when I experienced a tightening sensation in my left leg. I needed to sit down, stretched and massage my leg for a few minutes before the sensation subsided. After a few minutes, knee pain would kick in. I needed to stretch my leg again. Have it suspended it in mid-air. The sensation would subside for a few minutes, but I’d feel my leg cramping and tightening again after a few minutes of movement. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I went to the hospital to ask for a prescription of a drug that I usually take for potassium deficiency.
It didn’t feel weird when I was advised to see an orthopedist. What got me surprised was when I was told that I might be suffering from a strained hamstring. All I could say is “I’m sorry, what?”
And the doctor asked. “Do you run once a week?” “No. Maybe, once in 2 weeks?,” I said. He winced.
“Your last run was on a track and field?” “No.”
“Do you run in the same area?” “No. I sometimes go to a track and field but last time I ran was at the university.”
“Were you running on pavement?” “Yes.”
“Were you wearing shoes made for running?” “Yes.”
“Did you do some stretching exercises before you ran?” “A little.”
“You got injured because of your wrong practices.” Before I could wail in protest, he stopped me and explained. Ten minutes after, I was out of the door , on my way to the X-ray department.
If you’re experiencing that pins and needle sensation in your calves and shins, or you’re panting and gasping for air after every lap when you’re running or if you just want to be fit and want do it the right way (believe me, you’ll want to) then read this, or risk yourself to injury.
1. Eat right. Any physical activity requires energy to burn, so if you’re gonna burn it, better make sure that you’ve got lots of it. Bulk up on carbohydrates and protein-rich foods. Include pasta, rice and potatoes in your diet.
2. Choose your running space. It is recommended to start running on a track and field. Since your feet are new to the strain of running, tracks offer a forgiving surface since they are made from shock absorbing materials designed to minimize repetitive injury. Track surfaces are normally smooth and have minimal obstacles that may cause foot injury. Tracks also have markers that will allow you to monitor your progress; your pace, the distance and the time you’ve run.
3. Choose the right running shoes. You don’t need to have expensive running shoes to run properly. You have to determine what type of feet you have to know what type of running shoes you have to buy.
If you’re flat-footed, you need to look for shoes that will maintain stability because your feet will roll inward when you run. When shopping for running shoes, check if the shoes would provide “motion control” and “stability”. Some flat-footed runners also use custom-made shoe inserts designed to correct such foot conditions.
If you see a high and definite arch on your foot, then your feet will roll outwards when you ran. When you run, your foot’s arch will eventually fall and will tend to make your feet longer,so look for running shoes that would be flexible and would cushion your foot.
If your feet does not look flat-footed and the arch is less than three-quarters of an inch, your foot type is neutral. This type is the least susceptible to injury as long as you’ve got the proper footwear. Choose the type of running shoes suited for neutral runners. Don’t get the type that would provide a lot of motion control or stability.
Use socks that are not too thin and not too thick to properly cushion and at the same time , will not restrict your feet when you walk, jog or run.
3. Warm up. Do a warm-up walk, then jog for about 5 minutes. This will raise your heart rate which will gradually speed up once you start running. Then start stretching. Stretching will lengthen and strengthen your muscles. Stretch your arms , legs and side body.
Stretch your hamstring by standing up straight, with both knees slightly bent. Then bend down, towards the floor , at your hip-joint and reach for your toes. Reach as far to your toes until you feel the muscles at the back of your thigh stretching. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat two or three times.
Ensure that you warm up your entire body, not just specific parts. Making any intense move without warming might cause injury to your muscles and tendons.
4. Be progressive. Walk first. Then jog. Gradually increase your speed. If you’re running on a hilly place, ensure that you start on the slopes before running on the steeper parts. Don’t train too hard too soon as you’ll expose to injuries or fatigue. Make a record of your speed and the distance you have covered to monitor your performance.
5. Hydrate. Since running will make you perspire, you need to replenish your lost fluids by drinking water before,in between laps and after running. When you sweat, you’re losing electrolytes so you may also drink sports drinks but water will do just fine.
6. Cool down. Just as you gradually increased your heart rate before running, you also need to lower it down after exercising. Don’t sit down after running. Walk or jog for another five to 10 minutes and do another round of stretching. This will ensure that your blood will flow properly and will maintain a steady circulation. Take deep breaths to ensure that you’re getting enough supply of oxygen.
Enjoy your run without the injuries!