With a new year come new resolutions, and how many of us have made resolutions to get more fit? If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late; it’s only February! This month is American Heart Month, which makes it the perfect time to get more active and keep our hearts healthy.
Here at Apex Physical Therapy, patients often ask us how to get started with a running or jogging program. Running is a great way to get active, since it can be done by people of all ages, requires minimal equipment compared to other sports, and is easy to start. There are lots of reasons for you to start a running program. Getting your heart pumping, clearing your mind, as a progression or rehabilitation, or finding a new hobby are just a few of them. Whatever the reason, it is important to take a few things into consideration so that you don’t hurt yourself as you ease into the process of running.
Before you start:
Prior to heading out on your first run, make sure that you are in good physical health. If you have not been active for a prolonged period, you may need to check in with your doctor or physical therapist. You may also need to start with a walking program to progress towards a running program. If you have musculoskeletal or joint issues that are hindering your walking or running, visit us at Apex Physical Therapy Honolulu to assess your needs and get you on the right path.
Have you been on the sidelines for more than 3 months? Be sure to check your equipment, most notably your shoes. First off, make sure that the shoes fit your feet. You don’t want your shoe so small that it crushes your toes as you run, but you also do not want your shoes to be too big that your feet are constantly swiveling in your shoes. A good way to measure if the shoe is the right size for you is to push your toes to the front edge of the shoe and stick your finger between your heel and the heel of the shoe. You should be able to fit your finger there. But, if you can stick your finger in the back of your shoe easily, that means the shoes are too big for you. If you can’t do it at all, the shoe is too small. When your shoe is on and your heel touches the back of the shoe, you should have about one thumb width between the tip of your largest toe and the front edge of the shoe.
Next are the treads of the shoe; this is the bottom portion of the shoe that strikes the ground. Make sure that the bottom of the shoe is NOT flat. Usually, the treads wear out in about 6-8 months depending on how much you use the shoe.
After you start getting deeper into your running program, if your feet start to hurt, you may want to try running in other shoes, as this could be a sign that your shoes don’t fit well or are wearing out. For a more in-depth look at when you should get new shoes, check out our previous article here.
Running and Walking
When you first start your running program, it is important to start off slow and ease into it. Running is a non-contact sport, but there are still very high rates of injury if you fail to construct your program correctly. If you have not exercised in a long time, you should start with a slow jog that feels close to a walk. Sustain the jog for a minute, then walk for three minutes. Repeat this five times. This will give you a 20-minute work period. Add five minutes to the beginning and end of the workout for warm up and cool down, and the entire workout will last about 30 minutes. Over time, if you feel good with the pace, extend your work period to two minutes of jogging and two minutes of walking, then repeat five times. Repeat this process to gradually increase your running time and decrease walking time. Start with this program 2-3 days a week.
Benefits of Running:
Running is a great way to stay active, especially during COVID, because you can do it alone or with a friend while remaining socially distanced and outside. It is also a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind whenever you need it.
With time and practice, anyone can become a good runner, or even just a more active person. At the end of the day, you are just competing against yourself in an effort to become better than you were yesterday.
Contact us today if you have minor aches and pains that are preventing you from starting that walking or running program you’ve always wanted. Call us for high-quality, personalized physical therapy care to allow you to stay active all year.