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How to Start Running Healthy

How to Start Running Healthy

Written by Pamela Robichaud, DPT

In Partnership with KoaFit

Written by Pamela Robichaud, DPT

– In Partnership with KoaFit

The gyms have been closed.  Your spin classes are not happening.  The pools won’t be open for quite some time.  So you want to go for a run! But where do you start so you don’t get hurt the first day out?

With my hands-on skills as a physical therapist, dry needling and knowledge of corrective exercises and mobility, I have helped many a friend who went from not running to throwing in a 3 miler. The overnight couch to 5k…. the most common problem? Calf/Achilles issues and painful hips + knees.  In these uncertain times, with access to hands-on skills and bodywork limited, I’m here to share a few nuggets of wisdom to help you prepare for your future as a runner.  

The goal here is to give you a few tips on how to prepare your body to absorb the impact of running and help you recover. Running is good for your mind, body, and soul.  However, if you are not used to a high impact activity, a little prep goes a long way. 

The gyms have been closed. Your spin classes are not happening. The pools won’t be open for quite some time. So you want to go for a run! But where do you start so you don’t get hurt the first day out?

With my hands-on skills as a physical therapist, dry needling and knowledge of corrective exercises and mobility, I have helped many a friend who went from not running to throwing in a 3 miler. The overnight couch to 5k…. the most common problem? Calf/Achilles issues and painful hips + knees. In these uncertain times, with access to hands-on skills and bodywork limited, I’m here to share a few nuggets of wisdom to help you prepare for your future as a runner.

The goal here is to give you a few tips on how to prepare your body to absorb the impact of running and help you recover. Running is good for your mind, body, and soul. However, if you are not used to a high impact activity, a little prep goes a long way.

The Basics

Ankle Mobility: 
        Calf Release – 2 min each leg
        Shin Release – 2 min each leg
        Kneeling Ankle Stretch 30 sec x 3 each leg
        Calf Stretch (on ½ foam roller, rolled-up yoga mat, towel…anything) 30 sec x 3 each leg
Ankle Strength:
        Calf Raise + Eccentric Calf Strength – these can + should be done off a step for the full range of motion. 10-20x based on fatigue. 
Hip Mobility :
         Hip Openers 3-5x each side
Pelvis + Glute Stability:
         Cross Body Core 10-20x each side
         Side Plank – can also be done on knees – 30 sec x 3 each side
         Single-Leg Bridge 10-20x
         Monster Walk – 3-5 min            
         Lunge with Overhead Reach and Calf Stretch + Activation 3x each side
         Banded Jumps – 15x
 
Ankle Mobility: 
        Calf Release – 2 min each leg
        Shin Release – 2 min each leg
        Kneeling Ankle Stretch 30 sec x 3 each leg
        Calf Stretch (on ½ foam roller, rolled-up yoga mat, towel…anything) 30 sec x 3 each leg
Ankle Strength:
        Calf Raise + Eccentric Calf Strength – these can + should be done off a step for the full range of motion. 10-20x based on fatigue. 
Hip Mobility :
         Hip Openers 3-5x each side
Pelvis + Glute Stability:
         Cross Body Core 10-20x each side
         Side Plank – can also be done on knees – 30 sec x 3 each side
         Single-Leg Bridge 10-20x
         Monster Walk – 3-5 min            
         Lunge with Overhead Reach and Calf Stretch + Activation 3x each side
         Banded Jumps – 15x

Now that you have got your body mobilized and stabilized, it’s time to figure out exactly how much you should run.  Great (+ necessary) question. Whether you’re new to the sport or recovery from an injury, there is a pretty good formula to follow:

30 sec on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10. Sure, that’s not a very long amount of time, but maybe you start off a 2-3 mile walk with these short intervals as a way to get some time on your feet with light, but not high, impact. Exposing your body to light weight-bearing activities, like walking or hiking, is a great buffer for running. 

Take your time with these progressions and make the time to do your recovery mobility + strength.

  • 1 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 2 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 3 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 4 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 5 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
    …. Continue until you are up to 10 min x 5

Now that you have got your body mobilized and stabilized, it’s time to figure out exactly how much you should run.  Great (+ necessary) question. Whether you’re new to the sport or recovery from an injury, there is a pretty good formula to follow:

30 sec on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10. Sure, that’s not a very long amount of time, but maybe you start off a 2-3 mile walk with these short intervals as a way to get some time on your feet with light, but not high, impact. Exposing your body to light weight-bearing activities, like walking or hiking, is a great buffer for running. 

Take your time with these progressions and make the time to do your recovery mobility + strength.

  • 1 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 2 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 3 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 4 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
  • 5 min on, 1 min off x 5 and work up to x 10
    …. Continue until you are up to 10 min x 5

Don’t forget: Wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands!

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