Originally published on healthforhappiness.in. Reproduced here with permission & minor edits
As a novice runner one is more likely to suffer injuries when running. Knees, hips, feet are all easy targets in beginners, as they do not have the experience of holding the right running form throughout a run. So running is a case practice makes perfect. In the meantime, you can do well to keep your muscles prepped for running.
It’s essential to look into some basic exercises to make sure that you are injury proof. As invincible as you may seem to yourself, there’s no harm in a little precaution. The second most injury-prone area would be the foot. As the part of your body that absorbs the most weight and pressure while running, your feet are an anatomical wonder, but that does not mean you can take their fitness for granted. With a few simple exercises your feet will be safe from Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, the most chronic foot injuries, and go from injury-prone to injury-proof. Here’s how you can use basic exercises and turn them into injury prevention tips.
Seated Arch Stretch
You would not believe how much stress your toes take on when you are running. Give back some love by grabbing your toes and gently pulling them back. This gives a good stretch to the oft-ignored plantar fascia. Make sure you get this stretch for both feet after every run.
Pay attention to your calves
After your injury prevention workouts, if you feel the hamstring, calf and ankle muscles being painful, it means you need to stretch them out after your exercise. Stand on a step with forefeet on the edge with the back half of your foot hanging outside the step. Push up with both feet into a calf raise.
Next, lift one leg off the step and lower your other leg so that your heel drops below the step. Take up to 10 seconds to lower it. Return to start; repeat 10 times on each foot. This will make sure your calf muscles are well conditioned and as a result, can absorb much of the shock that ripples out from your foot.
Walk on your toes for one minute and then switch back to a heel stance. Do this twice. Your feet are a network of muscles and it’s important to exercise all of it to maintain the great flexibility they offer.
Sit on a chair and write the alphabet with your toes on the floor. For added difficulty write them standing up. You will feel your ankle flex; Remember to switch feet at Z.
Practical ways to work out your feet
Sit with your feet flat on the floor and tap each foot 50 times. Get into a rhythm but make things a little more difficult by trying to keep your heels down. Notice how this mimics the running landing action. Next up, elevate one foot and write the alphabet with your toes, and feel your ankle flexing and rotating. Go from A to Z, before switching feet.
These easy and non-strenuous injury prevention tips are perfect for beginners who need to take care of their body with more diligence. For more advanced workouts, some yoga poses such as mandukasana, navasana and uttkatasana are recommended. Injuries are more likely to occur when your feet are unused to taking the load of running regularly, but religiously do the stretches and you’ll be running a long time. Lastly please never forget that proper rest is just as important as your training. Any muscle pain can be a result of heavy workout or because of some injury. Giving it a rest allows your body to heal and also gain strength to really make full use of our injury prevention tips. Maintain a good balance in your diet, getting enough water and sleep when in recovery.