Running is great exercise, especially for busy women. It gets your heart rate up, builds strength and can be done virtually anywhere at any time. This has, no doubt, led to the rise of mom running groups, which that can be found in every pocket of Central Florida. These groups offer a supportive environment where women can run, whether it is around the block or a marathon.
It’s easy to start running – just get up and go. But there are some precautions you should take and things you should be aware of to avoid injuries.
Don’t overdo it. Doing too much is generally how most running injuries occur. To protect yourself, follow the 10 percent rule by adding no more than 10 percent in distance to your run each week. For example, if you run 10 miles in week one, then week two might go up to 11 miles, week three up to 12 miles and so on. This rule is just a maximum suggestion. Listen to your body to determine if adding 10 percent in one week is too much for you.
Resist the need for speed. Be the tortoise, not the hare. Your body will naturally get faster with time.
Strengthen your hips. Women have wider hips, which increases stress on the patellofemoral joint. For all runners, especially women, working on hip strength is very important. The gluteus medius is one of the main hip abductor muscles, and unfortunately, due to our sedentary lifestyle, we don’t use it as much as we should. The hips stabilize each leg during the stance phase of the running gait. Weak hips throw off that stability and cause other muscles to compensate, resulting in overuse injuries. Basic exercises, like the clamshell or side step, are very effective when done two or three times a week to build hip strength. You can find how-to videos online.
Strengthen your bones. Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries in women runners. This usually feels like a bruise on the bone in areas such as the heels, feet or shins. The good news is that the regular impact you put on your bones when running will increase your bone strength and should lessen the likelihood of this injury. To avoid stress fractures, have a leg muscle strengthening routine that you do regularly. Also, eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.
If ever you experience pain that does not go away in a day or two after you take a break from running, make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. These doctors are specially trained to diagnose injuries in athletes and can offer customized treatment that keeps your goals in mind.