Jogging is a great way to exercise and keep fit. But jogging
is not without risks. A little knowledge and preparation can
go a long way to prevent injuries and accidents. Before you
start, consult your physician. Your physician may suggest a
stress test to evaluate your condition and can offer helpful
advice specific to your physical condition.
Warm up before exercise. Warming up your muscles before you
jog can decrease your risk of injury. If you are just beginning,
walk before you jog. Walking for about thirty minutes will prepare
your muscles for jogging. When you can walk continuously for
thirty minutes, you are ready to jog. On your first walk-jog
workout, walk for seven minutes and then jog for three. Jog
at a fast walking pace. Repeat this three times for a total
of thirty minutes. When you feel ready, walk for five minutes
and then jog for five. In a few months you may be able to jog
the entire thirty minutes.
Jog in an upright position, stomach in, heel to toe, taking
short, smooth strides. Pick up your feet, lifting your front
knee and extending your back leg. Keep your elbows bent, your
forearms and chin parallel to the ground. Breathe deeply from
your diaphragm. Some people measure their heart rate at intervals
throughout their workout, others wear heart-rate monitors. Jogging
three to five times a week at eighty percent of your maximum
speed is enough to reach a high level of cardiovascular fitness.
If you feel winded, slow to a walk. Don't ignore discomfort
in your shins, knees, or back.
Pace yourself. Start jogging at a slower pace for the first
few minutes or start your jog with a brisk walk. Sudden and
unfamiliar exertions are most likely to cause injuries. If you
want to run faster or longer, limit increases to no more than
10 percent a week.
Pay attention to how your body feels before and after a jog.
Aches and pains are not uncommon after jogging. However sharp
pain that lasts longer than 20-30 minutes after a run could
be abnormal. It's important to know your own body so you can
be alert to a pull or pain that could be an indication of a
more serious injury.
Beware of sudden injuries. Most mild chronic injuries can be
treated with a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises.
Reducing mileage or icing the affected area are treatment options.
Ankle injuries can cause the ankle to turn black-and-blue or
to swell. However, the injury might not be a sprain if you can't
bear to stand or bear weight on the injured foot. When in doubt,
consult your physician and obtain a x-ray to determine if the
ankle is broken.
Watch out for acute and chronic injuries. Hamstring tears are
common acute injuries - they usually cause sudden pain in the
back of the thigh when the hamstrings are contracted suddenly
and violently. Treat injuries properly. Treatment of both above-mentioned
injuries includes rest, ice, compression and elevation, commonly
known as the RICE method. Once the muscles have recovered, begin
a stretching regimen to prevent further injury.
Find out if jogging is right for you. If you have a bad back,
constant sore knees, or other recurring injuries, the pounding
of jogging may not be for you. Find an activity that puts less
stress and impact on the body.
Select the right shoes. A proper fit means that your heel should
be snug and not excessively slide up and down. Additionally,
there should be about ½ inch between the end of your
longest toe and the end of the toe box. Consider support, comfort,
durability, and foot-motion control. Periodically, check the
soles of your shoes for signs of wear.
Alternate different brands and styles of shoes. Doing so helps
alleviate foot problems that develop because of a particular
shoe's construction. Using more than one pair can also prolong
Cool down. At the end of your jog, cool down by slowing your
pace or walking. Muscles that have carried you through a workout
have contacted, and a session of stretching is crucial. Muscles
that are not conditioned this way are more likely to sustain
pulls, strains, and spasms.
Make it a habit. Jogging only once a week, no matter how vigorous
the activity, puts you at risk of injury and fails to provide
you with maximum aerobic and conditioning benefits. Try to establish
a schedule of three-30 minute workouts a week.