Since mankind first evolved to walk on two legs, running on them has been important. Each human’s relationship with our most basic form of transportation is different, but our long natural history as runners has led many to think that adding running to a fitness regimen is straightforward and easy.
It’s not! If you aren’t prepared as a beginning runner, it can be easy to cause yourself injury through lack of preparation. If you’re a patient of gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or LAP-BAND in Dallas, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is vital to weight loss, but understanding what to do before you lace up your shoes is equally important. From picking the right shoes to picking the right pace, here are the first steps to making running a healthy part of your everyday life.
- Gear up. It’s crucial to build your running routine from the ground up, which means picking the right pair of shoes. Running shoes are designed to handle the specific stresses of running while staying light enough to keep you unencumbered, so if you really want to run right, cross-trainers or walking shoes won’t cut it.
- Determining which pair is right for you will hinge on a variety of factors like price and support needs, but for the best options head to a store that specializes in running gear and ask for a recommendation. Though less important, it may also be a good idea to grab some athletic clothing that will be comfortable and lightweight enough to run in.
- Walk before you run. Running uses muscles and tendons that may not be prepared to handle the impact if you don’t ease in carefully. Walking is the best way to prepare those parts of your body for the strenuousness of running, so try this process to build into a running routine.
- Walk for 30 minutes two to four times a week, increasing your pace by a little bit each day until you’ve worked up to a brisk walk after a few weeks.
- Once you feel comfortable just walking, alternate between running and walking—5 minutes running, 1 minute walking—while again getting out two to four times a week for the next few weeks.
- Once you feel comfortable mixing running and walking, increase your amount of running—9 minutes running, 1 minute walking—or take a shot at running continuously for 30 minutes.
Even if you feel comfortable with other forms of cardio, you may not be prepared for the unique stresses of running. To prevent injury, start slow and build to running regularly over several months. This step is especially important for patients of bariatric surgery.
- Maintain proper form. Bad form can often result in injury for runners, so keep an eye on how you run to save yourself a lot of pain in the long run. As you’re running, try to relax, but maintain good posture. Your shoulders should be down, your chest up. Your body should be positioned in a straight line from top to bottom, feet landing directly under your hips as you take each step.
- Many runners have a tendency to lean forward, which can cause back problems. Avoid swinging your arms too much and try to take soft steps— landing hard on your feet will slow you down and cause strain to your joints. To ensure that you’re using proper form, the best strategy is to work with a trainer or have your form critiqued by a fitness professional.
- Keep building. Though it’s important to build slowly, you’ll stop seeing results if you don’t increase the amount you run. Try adding 10 percent of your run time each month to maximize the benefits—if you walk/run four times one week at 30 minutes apiece, or 120 minutes, try adding an extra 12 minutes to the next month.
- Patience is the key to building up your running regimen, but to avoid boredom you may need to switch up your running route. Running the same path through your neighborhood three or more times a week will quickly get boring. Instead, try switching running routes regularly or finding a running partner or group to keep you company. Changing terrain will keep your senses stimulated day to day, while running with others is bound to keep you motivated.
Running is great exercise, but only if you do it correctly. If you’re thinking about adding running to your fitness routine, be sure to build towards it and as always, ask Dr. Stewart before adding any kind of strenuous activity to your daily life.