Running is one of the best ways to boost health, burn calories and lose or maintain a healthy weight. It is also a common way to become injured. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a diehard daily runner, these tips can help you avoid injury.

sporty woman on athletic race trackWarm up before you stretch

Go slow and low on your run to warm up cold muscles. After a ten minute easy run, stop for a stretch before you head into your regular pace. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and avoid bouncing. Move gently into the stretch and hold as soon as you begin to feel resistance.

Strength train

Focus on exercises that build your core, hamstrings and glutes. Running injuries are often caused by overcompensation. For example, knees work harder when hamstrings are weak. Add variety to your routine so that all muscles get some conditioning. Poor muscle strength impacts stride and form, which also leads to injury. Many runners have had success with yoga as a way of building strength and reducing the risk of injury.

Get the right gear

Your gait is probably not the same as the next guy’s. Head to a running specialty store to get help with finding shoes that are right your unique footfall. A sneaker that offers appropriate support can reduce the risk of injury. As a bonus, good shoes will make you feel more comfortable on your run. Don’t forget cotton free sock to reduce the risk of blisters.

Take good care

Be sure to take in adequate nutrition and fluids. Go for at least 200 calories of easily digestible carbs about an hour before your run. Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and have a glass to top off just before you run, especially in warm weather. Sleep is important, too. Poor sleep contributes to poor form and increases your likelihood of injury.

A post run snack is important as well. Go for a mix of protein and carbs for energy recovery and muscle rebuilding. Have your snack within 30 minutes of your workout.

Use headphones wisely

A great playlist can help you go harder. Studies have shown that music can reduce the level of perceived exertion and even encourage you to exercise for longer periods. If you do use music, be sure to do so safely. Danger from traffic and people behaving badly should be considered.

RunningRunning is a great way to boost both physical and mental health. Regular runners enjoy reduced risk of chronic illness, such as diabetes, insomnia and even depression. Take care on the road so you can avoid injury and keep running for your life.