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Exercise

3 Essential Steps to Safe and Effective Running

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A lot of people choose running as their primary form of exercise. This is because running costs very little, it is convenient, and we all know how to do it. At least, we think we do. Contrary to popular belief, running is actually more complicated than just putting one foot in front of the other. If a runner is not knowledgeable and well prepared, they will wind up feeling uncomfortable or injured. Running requires proper technique to make it safe, effective, and enjoyable. Are you confident that you are doing this exercise correctly? Read on for the safe and effective guide to running.

Running position

woman running on the grass

Image from FemSide

The position that your body is in when you are running plays a pivotal role in the safety and effectiveness of this form of exercise.

Let’s start at the top. Your head should be straight. A lot of people have a tendency to look down at their feet when they are running. This is a natural instinct. You think it is safer to look down so that you can easily dodge obstacles while you are moving at speed. In actual fact, looking down while running will lead to strain in your neck and shoulders.

Your jaw, neck, and shoulders should not be tight and tensed. This will cause pain in these areas and will make it harder to breathe, reducing the amount of oxygen reaching your muscles. Try to keep these parts of your body loose and relaxed.

Keep your hips in a fixed position. Avoid pushing them back or forward, as this can lead to hip and lower back problems.

Your hands, like your neck and shoulders, should be stable but relaxed. If you clench your hands, this will tighten the muscles in your shoulders and back.

While striding, allow your knee to bend slightly when it comes into contact with the ground. This will help to soften the impact, preventing a knee injury. Don’t allow your knees to come too high—they should be aiming straight ahead rather than upwards.

Allow your feet to hit the ground softly. If they are landing with a thump on the ground, you are running too hard. This can cause damage to many different parts of your body.

Breathing

You will feel less exhausted and breathless if you practice controlled breathing. Think deep and rhythmic, not short and shallow. This kind of breathing will allow more oxygen to get to your muscles, which in turn leads to more endurance. Match your breathing with your steps to make it easier. Inhale for three or four strides then exhale for the same number.  Concentrating on your breathing while running also helps many runners focus on their targets rather than the moment to moment during the run itself.

Drinking water

If you are running for 30 minutes or less, you won’t need to drink water during your run. However, do drink plenty of water post-run to replenish the fluids you have lost. For longer runs, the rule is to have a drink every 20 minutes.

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