Running is still one of the most popular forms of exercise and, when undertaken with care, it is a highly rewarding way of keeping fit. The benefits of running can be achieved in a relatively short space of time. It can be undertaken almost anywhere and once you have invested in a good pair of shoes, is basically free.
The repetitive nature of the activity is meditative and uplifting. It builds stamina and muscle tone and is great for weight loss. But there are things to consider when running. Excess physical exertion can be counterproductive to better health. Fortunately, there are ways to make this a safe and enjoyable activity at all stages of life.
Start with the Right Shoes
A good pair of runners will make your exercise journey much more enjoyable. They will also minimise injury. Here are some things to look for:
Buy your first runners from people who know about running. Some outlets may have an electronic device to test your feet. If not, a team member will begin by measuring the length and width of your foot. They will then observe your gait to see if you have high arches, flat feet or something in between.
Runners are light, cushioned and supportive, absorbing the impact when your foot strikes the road. When you run, the weight of your body is repeatedly supported by your feet. This makes good runners absolutely essential to avoid injury over time.
What Kind of Runner Are You?
Consider the surface you will be running on and the kind of running you plan to do. Short sprints will impact your body differently to a longer slower run.
A short sprint is often taken on the ball of the foot, allowing for the body to propel forward with the greatest momentum. Sprints will burn fat and raise cardio, but they also raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sprinting is best interspersed with longer slower runs.
The mid-foot strike is preferred for longer distances. The slower, longer distance run is ultimately better for overall health. It is gentler on the parasympathetic nervous system, boosting naturally occurring chemicals which lower blood pressure and supporting serotonin and endorphin production.
9 Style Tips for Runners
No, it’s not about your outfit. And it’s not even about how streamlined you look while you run. Adopting a confident relaxed running stride will keep your body protected.
- Keep a relaxed posture with your shoulders back and down
- Head over shoulders will reduce neck tension
- Shoulders forward facing and in line with the hips
- Project gaze about 30-40 metres ahead
- Aim to strike the ground with the middle of the foot
- Don’t hit too hard – light and quiet is a good rule of thumb
- Take note of your arms and how they are moving across your body – too much diagonal swing and you are using up energy unnecessarily
- Relax your hands. We often clench without noticing when exercising. This grip will send tension up your neck and through your shoulders
- Deep and even breathing will keep your body oxygenated
It’s a good idea to develop a light stretching routine to warm up and warm down. Support bands can be worn where there have been previous injuries to lower back knees or ankles. Be mindful of running when you’re under the weather and take it easy. If you sustain an injury while running, you will need to take a break.
Run with consciousness! Research has shown that running in a relaxed, positive frame of mind will benefit your whole body – so smile and enjoy.
To make a booking or learn more about our physiotherapy, exercise physiology or other therapies, contact our friendly team on 08 8331 1557 or drop into one of our clinics and speak with one of our staff about your needs.