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Posted on 27 September 2016 by Michael Gallagher
Tags: Exercise, Sport, Wellbeing

Run - for your life!

You may have seen the great crowds of people in Bristol city centre on the last weekend in September; braving the rain in brightly coloured shorts and fancy dress. What were these crazy people doing? And why would anyone want to run 13 miles?

Every year more than 10,000 people participate in The Great Bristol Half Marathon, a 13 mile run. It's a mostly flat course that starts and finishes in Bristol's historic Harbourside, taking in some of the city's most famous landmarks along the way (SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge). This is a hugely popular event with a fantastic atmosphere and crowds of enthuiastic onlookers cheering the runners on their way. 

Running comes easily

It is estimated that more than two million people in the UK run at least once a week. Why? Because we can, because it makes us feel good and because we are hard-wired to do it. As soon as we learn to walk, we run. It’s a natural progression; one foot in front of the other just comes easily. Sadly, as we get older life can get in the way. We are taught that we need to sit in our seats at school, stay at our desk at work. In fact, after leaving full time education, for a lot of people the only running they do is to be to catch a bus!

We are designed to move, and as much as possible, we should fit exercise into our lives to help negate the effects of a life spent sitting. Chronically tightened hips, weakened back muscles, higher blood pressure, increased cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and even certain cancers all increase significantly in those who sit more than 9 hours a day. As Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run famously said, “You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”

Give it a go

Even if you haven’t run since you were a toddler, you still have all the skills you need. Its free, you just need two feet* and a heart beat. And exercise releases mood-enhancing hormones, which can result in a ‘runners high’, helping combat anxiety, stress and improving sleep quality. Sounds good right? So what’s holding you back? Here are ten top tips to help get you up and running successfully: 

1. Warm up before hand - walking or running slower than you intend to for a few minutes will get your heart rate to increase and more blood flow to the muscles ready to perform. 

2. Stretch after you run not before - static stretching has been shown to reduce muscles protective stretch reflex ability, actually making you more prone to injury during exercise. So stretch dynamically before as this will help increase your range of movement, and help you iron out any kinks before you start. Think leg swings, high knees and butt kicks.

3. Start slow - no one runs a marathon on their first day out. So don't get put off if you aren’t running very far to start. Switch between walking and running until you can go the same distance without stopping to walk in between. This happens at different times for everyone, so be patient. 

4. Focus on breathing - listen to your body. If you’re breathing too heavy slow down. Ideally you should be able to hold a conversation as you run until your are running your first race. 

5. Run with a friend - if you can start this journey with someone you will be much more likely to succeed. Not only have you someone to keep you accountable, but also if you are talking as you move you will be covering miles without thinking about it. 

6. Expect to ache afterwards - if you haven’t run recently expect to have some pain in your legs in the following day or two. Do not be discouraged by this, embrace it! Your body is getting stronger. Stretching and walking will help reduce this tension. 

7. Run Tall - imagine you are being pulled tall by a string through the top of your head. This will keep you in the ideal posture allowing as much oxygen into your lungs as possible to feed your leg muscles. 

8. Think fast - a smaller stride with faster foot turnover offers a more efficient running style putting less strain on your joints.

9. And light - you can tell when someone has good running style as they are quiet. If your foot is hitting the ground with a ‘thud’ then you need to focus on landing lightly. Imagine you are running across the top of the ground instead of bounding off it. 

10. Try not to heel strike - try running on the spot. Think about how your feet are landing. This is the ideal landing position, not on your heels. Large heels can actually lead to more injuries as it offers an unstable landing position. So to get started run on the spot and just lean forward!

The biggest challenge is getting your shoes on, so 1,2,3…Lace!

If you do have any concerns about running, have picked up an injury that’s holding you back or just want to make sure your body is in alignment to reach your optimum performance, just get in touch with one of our clinics to arrange a consultation.

* and preferably some shoes although see other post by Matt Freeman on barefoot running

willow chiropractic

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