With benefits including stress relief and weight loss, running is one of the most popular physical activities in the world. Whether you’re a newbie who never quite keeps that new year’s resolution to hit the pavement or a former fan keen to return to running, you’re probably wondering where to start.
Read on for three top tips and three top exercises for runners, selected by Capital Physio Chartered Physiotherapist Gbemi Adedipe.
TOP TIPS FOR RUNNERS
ALWAYS WARM UP
It’s often tempting when the mood strikes to grab your trainers and just start running, but despite good intentions this could actually do you harm! It’s vital to warm up your body and mind for any physical activity, increasing your heart rate as well as the blood flow to your muscles. For a specific warm up prior to running click here for ‘Dynamic Warm Up for Runners’.
ALWAYS COOL DOWN
After your run, don’t fall into the trap of collapsing on the sofa! Cooling down is an important part of a runner’s routine. It’s a good idea to take a slow walk for a few minutes after your run and then introduce stretches. Hold each stretch position for around 30 seconds and repeat twice or as needed. Foam rollers are another excellent way to give your muscles a helping hand after running. Cooling down will reduce your heart rate and relax your muscles to aid recovery and repair.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
Whether running for fun, to relieve stress or to work towards a race, it’s important to be strategic to get the most out of running. If you can run around three times a week the NHS has a great app called ‘Couch to 5km’, which guides you through specific intervals, each time slowly building up your distance.
THREE TOP EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS
These are a great way to work your major lower limb muscles: quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. These muscles all stabilise your hip and knee joints while enhancing your core, to help you maintain good posture and form. You can add squats to your workout regime without weights or add dumbbells and barbells to increase your heart rate and build up your muscular endurance.
This exercise targets lots of areas at once: quads, hamstrings, biceps, deltoids and core. You can try different varieties of mountain climbers to increase intensity. Just like running, mountain climbers involve repetitive movement, so all varieties require and encourage both endurance and strength. You may even find your coordination improves as a result too.
A great way to improve hip flexibility, stability and strength, this exercise is an ideal way to improve your running strides and therefore maximise your overall efficiency when running. This is because in addition to heavily targeting quads and hamstrings, it also targets hip stabilisers.
If you are not familiar with an exercise it is important to seek professional advice on technique to prevent injury. Whether exercising in preparation or running, remember to stay hydrated and listen to your body. Slow down or stop if necessary and if any pain or discomfort continues or worsens then book an appointment with a professional to avoid reinjuring yourself. You can get this help from a Chartered Physiotherapist at Capital Physio.
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