Let's go running!

Let's go running!

Publication date: 05-06-2024

Updated on: 06-06-2024

Topic: Sports

Estimated reading time: 1 min

Practicing an outdoor sport is healthy and relaxing. But can everyone run? How to approach running and not risk getting hurt? Dr. Luca Marin, Coordinator of the Rehabilitation Area of ​​the Istituto di Cura Città di Pavia, explains how to start running from scratch and what precautions to follow to prevent injuries.

Running shoes & clothing, medical check-up

Before you start running here are some simple tips to consider:

  • equipped with suitable footwear: they must be sneakers other than those used in free time. To choose the right ones for your foot, get advice from the staff of specialized shops. If you have lower limb pathologies, you need to be supported by specialists capable of assessing your real needs;
  • wear the right clothing: choose it according to the season you are in to avoid sweating too much or getting cold;
  • get a heart rate monitor: it is very important to monitor your heart rate during workouts;
  • undergo a medical examination: before starting an activity of this type, even at an amateur level, it is important that you undergo a medical examination to exclude being affected by pathologies or being in less than optimal physical conditions that predispose to accidents.

Running on asphalt or ground?

Also pay attention to the surface on which you run. Regular and too hard surfaces such as asphalt and concrete increase fatigue level and can increase the risk of muscle and tendon injuries.

It is more suitable to run on a soft surface, such as that of a park or a garden: the joint structures are subjected to less stress and the support of the foot is cushioned better even if the sensation is that of making more effort than the same race practiced on asphalt.

How to start running

How to start running from scratch? Dr. Marin replies: “It is advisable to start with a brisk walk of 20-30 minutes. The intensity to maintain is that which would allow you to have a conversation easily with another person. The optimal initial training frequency is 3 times a week, every other day. After a couple of weeks you can start alternating periods of running and walking.”

You should then gradually decrease the walking, replacing it with running, until you reach a full half hour of running.

How much to run to stay fit?

“If the objective is to achieve good physical shape it is possible to continue with these methods, running for up to a maximum of one hour. However, if you want to achieve other goals such as participating in competitions or losing weight systematically, it may be useful to rely on a professional and follow a personalized program," specifies Dr. Marin.

To train safely and obtain better results it is recommended:

  • monitor your heart rate using a heart rate monitor;
  • maintain a slow and regular breathing rate, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through parted lips.

Prevent injuries for beginner runners

One of the main causes of injury for beginner is overtraining, understood as:

  • excessive number of weekly sessions and/or duration of a single workout;
  • excessive effort, i.e. running speed.

It is essential to know your limits to avoid incurring tendinitis, contractures or tears!

Tips for not getting hurt

Here are some tips to prevent injuries:

  • start training with a few minutes of brisk walking, emphasizing flexion-extension of the foot (heel-toe movement) and knees (wider step), combining movements of the upper limbs (oscillations and circles);
  • avoid slow, bouncy running as it puts more strain on the joints and start running naturally until you reach the set speed within a few minutes;
  • include a cool-down phase: the training should end by retracing the previous steps in reverse, i.e. first slow running and then walking;
  • it is important not to stop suddenly and allow the cardiovascular system to recover and return to the initial state of rest and conclude with some static stretching exercises for the lower limbs;
  • also hydrate yourself throughout the race, especially if you have a tendency to sweat a lot;
  • don't run on an empty stomach, but have a small snack before starting.

When running is not recommended

Running isn't always good. For example, running may not be recommended in the presence of major osteoarticular pathologies such as:

  • arthrosis or arthritis;
  • meniscopathy;
  • ligament instability of the ankle or knee.

They are not absolute contraindications, but require careful specialist medical evaluation.

Alternatives to running

What if you are among those who cannot run? Alternatively, you can still carry out outdoor aerobic activities, such as:

  • fast walk
  • Nordic walking (fast walking aided by sticks).

These two types of activities should not be considered inferior to running, but as less traumatizing alternatives both for the joints and at a systemic level.

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