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"Tips for Pain-Free Running"
-Andrea Burckhard, DC
date posted: October 14, 2011

Running is certainly a great way to stay active, and for many of us, it is also a stress reliever. With this in mind, aches, pains, and muscle tightness can be a major disruption to our workout and wellness goals. I will present a few tips to keep you running with less pain. Even if you have heard these tips before, it is always helpful to be reminded!

Before any workout, a warm-up should take place. Stepping out your front door and immediately beginning your run can be hard on your muscles and joints. Walking for a few minutes while gradually increasing your speed boosts blood flow to your muscles and lubricates your joints, helping them function more efficiently and decreasing the risk of running injuries like joint sprains and muscle strains.

During your run, you might feel achy or dull pain in your feet, legs, or back. If this pain persists, worsens, or becomes sharp during your run, it is best to stop and walk for a time. Gentle, pain-free stretching of the affected area may be helpful in reducing your symptoms. If you are unable to continue your run comfortably, don’t push it. It is better to decrease your distance and speed while working through minor aches and pains than to risk a major injury that will prohibit you from running for weeks! Do not ignore sharp or unrelenting pain and see your chiropractor, medical doctor, or other healthcare provider if it is present.

After your run, a gradual cool-down is always a good idea. Walking for a few minutes is a great way to accomplish this. Immediately after this, stretch! Recent research suggests it is best to stretch after, not before, activity. The muscles you used during your workout tend to be tight and shortened afterwards. A shortened muscle does not stretch out as it should when you use it, sometimes causing a tear or “pull” in the muscle, also known as a strain. Stretching elongates this tissue, thereby reducing the chance you’ll “pull” it the next time you work out. Also, the increased blood flow to your muscles following a workout allows for a more effective stretch. Stretching should not be painful. Hold your stretches for five deep breaths, focusing on relaxing the muscle you’re targeting while you breathe.

If you have an area that tends to be sore after your workout, ice the area for 20 minutes up to once per hour.

Congratulations on your commitment to your health! I hope these tips will help keep you on track to accomplishing your health and wellness goals.

Dr. Andrea Burckhard is the owner of Eden Chiropractic in Edina, Minnesota. She can be contacted with questions/comments at drandrea@edenchirotwincities.com.

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