It’s a few months into the new year and 2018 is the year you’ve decided to take your fitness seriously. You may have signed up for a 5K or even a marathon to make sure you don’t back out of your fitness commitment.

Maybe you’re new to running or maybe you haven’t run for many years and want to get back into it. How do you start training so that you’re ready for your run?

It may be tempting to jump in and run a good six, eight or ten miles. You want to quickly get into running shape, so you push yourself and go all in.

However, if you try to do too much in your training, you risk foot, heel, ankle and knee strain and injury.

Heel pain is common for those who participate in high-impact activities like running.

Heel pain and injury can easily side-line you for many weeks, putting your training and fitness regimen on hold. The striving for quick results is not worth the possible painful, debilitating injury.

How do you train so that you avoid these terrible injuries? Well, here are some tips:

1. Wear Good Shoes

Your shoes are the most important running equipment. Your shoe should fit your foot well and have plenty of support and cushion. Make sure that the shoe fits your foot type (i.e. high arch, flat feet, wide feet, long feet).

2. Use Custom Orthotics

Even with a good-fitting shoe, the support and cushioning may not be enough. If you have gait or structural abnormalities, custom orthotics may be the best option to prevent foot and heel injuries.

3. Warm Up and Stretch

Stretching the calf muscles and Achilles tendon before your workout will help prevent heel pain while you run. A warm-up will slowly loosen the muscles and slowly bring the heart rate up so the body will be ready once the run begins.

4. Gradually Build Upon Your Training Program

Avoid the urge to run a 10K when you’ve never run a mile or a marathon after taking five years off. Your body isn’t used to running so it is best if you start off with a short distance and gradually increase your distance by no more than 10% per week. It also isn’t recommended to suddenly increase your intensity level or change your running terrain.

5. Cross-Train

While repetition is usually a good way to learn something new. When it comes to running, however, too much running can actually be detrimental and make one more prone to injury. Constant, long-term stress and use and overuse can cause plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries.

Cross-training is the incorporation of low-impact activities into your training routine. Biking, yoga, and swimming are great cross-training options.

6. Listen to Your Body

You may want to push through the pain, after all, where there is no pain, there’s no gain. However, it isn’t good to ignore the pain of your body. Typically, body pain indicates something is wrong and injured. If your body is injured or if you’re sick, would you work out? Probably not. When you experience body pain, don’t push it and take it easy.

7. Experiment With Running Styles (or Foot-Strike)

There are three different types of running styles, or strikes: heel-strike, mid-foot strike and toe-strike. There is not one that is better than the others. Heel-striking, however, creates the greatest impact on the knees and feet. If one style causes you foot pain, try another style.

8. Often Replace Shoes

When you do a lot of training runs, your shoes will quickly wear-out. Worn-out shoes have diminished cushioning, support and fit. Running in old running shoes can be just as bad as running in the wrong size or fit of the shoe.

9. Glide When Running

It may seem natural to bounce when we run, but bouncy running can add additional, unnecessary pressure on your feet, ankles, and knees. Gliding when you run makes your running efficient and it better matches the proper speed for your stride.

10. Keep an Even Stride

Avoid swinging your legs too far forward or lunge too far to decrease the pressure and impact on your knees, ankles, and feet. An even, consistent stride will make your running efficient and lessen the stress and pressure on your legs.

You can’t run a race without training. However, wrong training can make you susceptible to potentially painful and debilitating foot problems.

If your foot pain is chronic and/or serious, we recommend that you come into Advanced Foot and Ankle Center and have our specialists look. If the issue is serious, we may recommend that you avoid running until your foot heals. Contact us today if you experience severe foot pain.