Shoes & Stretching
Proper running shoes are critically important in avoiding injury. We recommend that you consult with staff of reputable running shoe stores for the shoes best for you. Proper shoes are your single most important investment in training!
- There should be adequate cushioning beneath the ball of each foot. The insole should be firm yet offer enough shock absorption. When you run, much pressure is exerted in this area, especially when you sprint. Fortunately, almost all running shoes today are well cushioned.
- The heel counter of the shoe is the cup that positions the foot inside the shoe. It should be firm for support and well-padded so that the heel of the foot is stabilized. If the heel counter is not firm, it can allow too much side-to-side motion, which may lead to injuries. Try squeezing the heel counter to check-it should not dent with finger pressure.
- The heel should have good shock absorption qualities to reduce the impact at heel strike. This lessens strain to the tendons, muscles, and other structures above the foot. A slightly elevated heel (about 3/4") lessens strain to the backs of the legs. Do not let the heels get run down with wear. This may cause incorrect alignment of the foot when walking or running, therefore causing foot or knee pain.
- The toe box should offer room for the bottom of the foot to spread and the toes to wiggle, but the front of the foot should not slide from side-to-side because blisters may result. The toes should not touch the end of the shoes because the feet will swell with activity and the pressure will increase. Allow about 1/2" from the longest toe to the tip of the shoe. You need to try both shoes of the pair and walk/jog in them to evaluate slippage and space.
Why Stretch? Stretching muscles before your activity/exercise helps prepare the muscles to respond at their optimum level during intensive activities. Stretching can help prevent injuries such as muscle strains and cramps. Stretching after exercising helps prevent muscle soreness and promotes flexibility. Ideally, this phase of your exercise program should occur after your warm-up and again after your cool down. If time is limited, at least stretch after your cool-down.
Muscles stretch best when they are warmed up first. (You might have noticed how you feel more flexible after a hot bath.) Do your activity/exercise at a slow pace for the first 3 to 5 minutes of your workout. Your heart rate and breathing should increase as your body sends blood to the working muscles. You should NOT be attempting to achieve your THR.
How To Stretch
- Gently warm up by walking, jogging slowly, or doing low-impact aerobics for 5-10 minutes. Pulse should increase to 90-100 beats per minute, and body should feel warm.
- Perform all exercises slowly and gently. No bouncing!
- Hold each stretch a minimum of 10 seconds. Work up to 30 seconds.
- Stretch to the point of muscle tension, not pain.
- Keep your breathing relaxed and regular. Holding your breath makes your muscles tighten.
- Anyone with a history of BACK PROBLEMS should CONSULT WITH A PHYSICAL THERAPIST BEFORE doing any of the trunk stretching exercises. These may need to be modified for you.
- The following stretching program is designed to be done before your workout to help prevent muscle injury and enhance performance. It is also designed to be done after your workout to help prevent muscle soreness and increase range of motion (flexibility). View the ten basic stretches you should incorporate into your routine.
- There are many other good positions to stretch your muscles.
After your aerobic phase or moderately intense exercise, continue your activity for an additional 3-5 minutes at a slow pace. This will gradually bring your heart rate down and less blood will pool in your muscles. Never stand or sit still immediaely after exercise, as you may risk feeling dizzy or faint. Like warming up, cooling down helps prevent pain and injury.
This information courtesy of health professionals at
Providence Holy Family Hospital & Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center