For runners, overall goals may involve speed, distance, race participation, or even beginning a running regimen for the very first time. Regardless of your running-related goals, be sure to spend some time in ensuring that an injury doesn’t knock you out of the running before you even get started properly.

Here are 5 Ways to Avoid Running Related Injuries

Get a Physical
Yes, you may be rolling your eyes, but “hear” this out anyway. It is especially important for those new to the sport to get their physician’s okay before embarking on a new exercise plan. He or she will advise you on what to do and not to do as a novice, but it doesn’t end there. You’re going to want some baseline physical data to help you evaluate your progress. In addition to getting a baseline on the basics like heart rate, blood pressure, and weight, your physician can also catch other issues that might interfere with you achieving your running goals and address them medically, lest those issues become problematic down the road. So make that call. You can thank us later.

Get a Grip
Though there are some great advantages to running in winter weather, it is not without risk. In fact, running in winter weather can present a number of serious hazards. That’s particularly true for those who are just taking their tentative first steps into the sport.

Take a look at the soles of your running shoes. Are they worn bare? Can you no longer make out a tread pattern? If so, it’s time to get a new pair. And to be doubly safe when ice is a factor, consider adding some extra grip with a cleat type system such as YakTrax or Prezl.

Get Toasty
When it’s cold outside and you expose bare skin to low temperatures, you risk frostbite and/or hypothermia. There are a myriad of sweat-wicking, warmth-holding clothing options from which to choose. Think layers when you’re dressing for frigid temperatures, and be sure to remember your hands and your nose. Don’t over-layer; however. Remember that you’re going to get warmer as you run, and you don’t want to be saddled with lugging a hoodie you had to shed at mile three when your plan is for a long, leisurely, weekend ten-miler.

Another issue that arises for some runners in cold temperatures has to do with asthma. Talk to your physician about options for protecting yourself if you suffer from exercise-induced asthma. Cold temperatures can make this worse. For some, wearing a mask will help. Others may require different sorts of intervention (e.g., carrying an inhaler).

Get Realistic
One of the most common mistakes made by new runners, one that causes untold numbers of injuries, is doing too much too soon. If you’ve spent the last ten years as a professional couch potato, attempting to run a 5k on your first day out is not going to be pretty. In fact, it will probably land you back on your couch with a wicked case of DOMS or worse.

Speaking of couch potatoes and new runners, one of the best starter programs out there is called Couch-to-5k. The C25K program has new runners start with intermittent periods of running and walking. You gradually decrease the walking portion and increase the running portion until you can comfortably run 5k without stopping. And the icing on the C25K cake? It’s free. Not only this program (or a similar program) help you prevent injury, it’s a great confidence builder, as well.

Get Help
Suppose you’ve followed all of the above advice, but you still sense something is wrong. Perhaps your knee is the size of a grapefruit or you find yourself grimacing in pain every time you put pressure on your ankle. If you do get injured — and it happens to the best of us — get medical attention sooner rather than later. With some types of injuries, trying to “just run through it” is the worst thing you can do, and can cause very serious problems.

At MedXM, we understand the value of preventive care. Give us a call to discover more about the benefits we can provide to your health care practice.