By Physiotherapist Jacky Balfour
Running is a great aerobic exercise. It is very time-effective and can be done almost anywhere at any time – and all you need is a pair of decent running shoes.
As an avid runner myself, having run marathons and too many 10k’s to count, I have been through the mental and physical challenges of what it takes to start running – on both a regular and competitive basis. As a physiotherapist, it is my natural passion to help anyone who wants to run, to be able to do so healthily – and without getting injured.
The following points will help you if want to start running:
Getting started running
When starting to run, one wants to be able to build up the running time without getting injured so that progress can be made. It is very disheartening to get into a cycle of injuries that prevent running and where it always feels like you are going back to square one.
To start with it is important to get a pair of good quality, comfortable running shoes. This doesn’t have to be top of the range. It is often necessary to go up half a size to ensure a good fit and remember that your feet do swell a little when running especially when it is hot. It is useful to take advantage of stores that allow you to try the shoes out on a treadmill first.
Walk/ run programmes
A structured way to start running is to use one of the walk/run programmes such as the ‘couch to 5k programme’ that can be found on the internet. These programmes gradually increase the running time so that running tolerance can be gradually built up.
It is often easier to run with someone, so find a running friend or even join a club. There are plenty of local running clubs that cater for every level of runner.
Try to find a Parkrun near you which is a great way of running with other people once you can comfortably run 5k.
The main point is – don’t be put off because you’re a beginner.
Stretching and strengthening
It is important to do regular stretching and strengthening to support your running and build strength and mobility. If you are unsure how to do this, it is worth seeking the advice of a physiotherapist.
Listen to your body
Listen to your body and don’t run if you are suffering from painful muscles and joints. In the early days don’t run if you are still feeling stiff from the previous run. If you are suffering from aches and pains that are not settling then again a physiotherapist can help.
Enjoy your running and see how good it feels to make progress.
Should you need to see a physiotherapist please call 020 8943 2424
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