Ready for Summer: Running

Summer is here. After being dormant for the long winter, many people are dying to be outside and have some fun. It is important to prepare your body to be active again.

The most common sports activity people will resume is running. It is convenient and cheap. You can run at any time, anywhere, and it does not require a partner.  And it does not require any equipment. Well, it is not exactly true. It does require a good pair of shoes to reduce your chance of injury.

Running is a high impact activity. The reaction force from the ground can be traumatic to the feet. Therefore, in general, running on grass/dirt is better than concrete. Furthermore, shoes with a good shock absorption or cushioned heel will greatly reduce the reaction force. Your heel is the bone designed to bear weight first before it transfers it to the toes. It is bigger and stronger. For distant runners, it is important to land on your heels first and not your forefoot.

Running can be very intense, and just like any other sports activity, it requires good warm-up stretching. The calf, quadriceps and hamstrings are the most important to be stretched. If you tend to have soreness in the buttock and/or hip area, the IT band and piriformis muscles should also be included in your stretching routine. Don’t forget the cool down with the same stretches post-run.

If you are a serious distant runner, watch your diet as well. Make sure you have good carbohydrate intake before and after running. Of course, being well hydrated, especially after running, is also crucial.

Have a great summer!

Peggy Hau, PT, MscPT is a licensed physical therapist at Mettler Center. Do you have a question about running? Ask an Expert. Or, call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist or request an appointment online.