Tips for Healthy Long Distance Running

Long distance running offers excellent health benefits like decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, supporting weight loss and improving bone density. However, the strain of running extended distances can lead to orthopedic injuries. To stay healthy, follow these essential tips for long distance running.

Get Enough Rest
Rest is essential. Runners can maintain bone and joint health and prevent injuries by making sure rest is a part of their running routine. Exercise depletes the body of energy and breaks down muscles. Rest and sleep are crucial as they allow the body to repair and rebuild muscle, replenish nutrients, and support and maintain endurance, speed and accuracy, according to the National Sleep Foundation

“Rest is the most effective protection against a running injury,” said Michael A. Wilmink, MD, a board-certified surgeon at OrthoArizona – Arcadia. “Taking time to recover allows the body to repair itself and gives the runner a chance to identify possible injuries that may need treatment.”

Follow a Training Schedule
Training is crucial. Those planning to participate in a marathon should keep a strict running schedule that gradually increases distance over a period of time to build endurance and strengthen muscles without causing unnecessary injury. For beginners, this process can take a much as a year.

Wilmink, who specializes in arthroscopy, total joint replacement, and joint reconstruction, suggests diligent stretching and incorporating weight training to help preserve bone density and increase muscle mass for the support of bones and tendons.

Use Correct Running Form and Technique
Focusing on running form can prevent injuries. Proper form reduces stress, allowing the body to conserve energy during a long run.

Correct form varies depending on each person’s running style, but implementing basic mechanics, like keeping an upright, relaxed posture, naturally swaying arms, and loose grip is a good place to start.

Common running injuries include runner’s knee, tendonitis and stress fractures. These running injuries are associated with overuse from repetitive movements used to run. Injuries may be prevented with proper rest, a sensible training routine and learning proper running form.

For help with a running or sports-related injury, contact the board-certified surgeons at AOA for excellent orthopedic care. To schedule an appointment, call (602) 631-3161.