Start a new walking or running routine without injury

Many times I hear about patients starting a new walking or running routine, only to then see them in my office for a related injury.  Let me start off by saying I applaud anyone for deciding to start an exercise routine to better their health.  But before you jump right into something new, whether it is for the first time ever, or it has been a while, follow these easy tips for injury prevention.

Talk to your doctor.  It is always a good idea to tell your doctor about your new exercise plans before you start them.  Your doctor will have a better idea of your current health, offer additional suggestions to help you succeed, as well as, preventative measures to take.

Build up your lower body strength.  If you have been inactive for quite some time, I suggest you start working on building up the muscles in your feet, calves, and quads.  By building up your muscle ahead of time, or in correlation with your new routine, you are reducing the possibility of lower leg aches and pains, such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, muscle strains and stress fractures.  A few lower body exercises you can do include: Calf raises, toe curls, hip flexors, and hip abductors.

Take is slow.  Never dive full force into a new exercise routine or physical activity, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while.  Start with shorter times and speeds. For example, if you want to start a new walking routine, walk every day for only 10 minutes, and then increase your walking time by 5 minutes each week for the month.  If you are already walking but want to start running, try one of these beginners running plans that help ease you into the program.

Rest.  Yes, I want you to rest after each session of your new routine- at first.  Until you have built up stamina, muscle strength and muscle memory, you need to rest your legs.  Elevate your legs when you are done walking or running.  If your knees, shins or arches feel a little sore, ice them for 10 minutes.

Taking the time to prepare for a new physical activity is the best method to injury prevention.  It also can help you stay on track by avoiding pauses in your newly established routine, which for some, can put an end to that activity rather quickly.

Additional resources for walking and running routines:

12 Week Walking Schedule

 Exercise: Starting a Walking Program– tips for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced walkers

Beginners Guide to Running– Couch to 5K, 5K to marathon

Should you find yourself in sudden discomfort that will not resolve on its own, causes you to favor one side of your body over the other or, causes a change in your stride, call Dr. Hollander and make an appointment to be seen.  (707) 578-1222.