The Best Warm-Up Routine before Cycling

Cycling is both a sport and a healthy and environmentally friendly means of transportation. Some people combine the two and take long rides into the countryside, admiring the scenic landscape and exercising in an exciting manner, in the middle of nature. Other people take up cycling for speed, endurance or cross-country racing. Whatever your reason for getting on the bicycle, there is one thing you must do: warm up before your start cycling.

The Best Warm-Up Routine before Cycling

Warming up is a standard routine for all kinds of sports, but not everyone does it consistently. While for professional athletes warming up is second nature, amateur cyclists do not realise the risks of starting on a long bicycle ride without preparing their bodies for the extra effort. Thus, they expose themselves to various injuries, especially muscle strains and micro-tearing at fibre level.

 

So, today we will discuss warm-up routines for cyclists. We have discussed with various trainers and professional cyclists and gathered various opinions and recommendations from them. Thus, we were able to synthesise a simple but effective warm-up routine which every cyclist should do before starting a race or a long-distance ride.

 

Stretching Routine before You Get on the Bike

Stretching represents a series of exercises which stimulate the flexibility and endurance of the muscles, preparing them for the effort they need to sustain. Stretching before exercising is recommended for all athletic and fitness routines, because it minimises the risk of suffering injuries. For cyclists, these are the best types of stretching routines:

 

  1. The Shoulder Reach

Shoulders do a lot of work in cycling. They keep the direction of the bike, help you turn right or left, and create a point of stability for your posture. The worst thing which could happen while you are pedalling downhill at high speed or taking a tricky curve is to get a shoulder cramp. In order to prevent this, do this simple stretching exercise:

 

Lift your arms high above your head, perfectly straight and as close to the head as possible. Keep this position and start shrugging your shoulders up and down in a series of 10 stretches. Take a break and repeat.

 

  1. The Knee Kick

Knees are also vital in cycling, and you must take extra care to keep them well trained and flexible for the continuous effort they have to do. The knee kick stretching routine will help you a lot in this respect. As you stand up, lift your knee up to your chest, hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. This exercise should be done in a series of 10 stretches per each knee, progressing to 30 in small increments.

 

  1. The Cyclist’s Squat

Surely everyone has done regular squats, but this specific type of stretching involves your bicycle as well. Put the support bar down, so that your bike is stable and grab the tube and the handle bar with your hands. Proceed to squat as low as you can, while keeping your soles flat on the ground. Maintain the squatting position for a few seconds, stand up and repeat 10 to 20 times.

 

  1. The Quad Stretch

Quadriceps take quite a beating during cycling, so keeping them well trained and flexible is a must. There are a series of stretching routines especially for this group of muscles, however the simplest is to face a wall at arm’s length, place your palms firmly on the wall and take a large step forward, until the knee is bent at 90 degrees. Keep the pose for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat with the other leg, creating a series of 10 stretches per leg, with a smooth progression to 20 and even 30.

 

On the Bicycle

Now that you have finished your stretching exercises, it is time to get on the bike…and continue your warming up for 10 to 20 minutes, increasing your pedalling cadence progressively and checking that your bicycle works well. If you are using a sports bike with several speeds, check all the gears during the warm-up and do not launch yourself into a full speed race until you are satisfied that you are fully in control of your bicycle.

Remember that together with the warm-up routine, it is also very important to ride a well-adjusted and maintained bicycle, and to take it to a specialist for an inspection if you feel anything amiss in the way it is working.

The SPI Team


IT Band Strain – What It Is and How to Treat It

The iliotibial (IT) band represents a series of fibres which are grouped together to form a thick tendon. They begin at your hip (the most prominent bone of your pelvis) and run along the outer lateral side of your leg, down the thigh and knee, and finally attach themselves to the tibia (the shin bone). This band is permanently moving as you walk and run and, in time, the friction against the lower end of the femur and the knee cap leads to its inflammation. This inflammation is the IT band strain.

IT band strain

What Are the Symptoms of IT Band Strain?

Most patients do not pay close attention to the first signs of IT band strain. It begins with the sensation of pins and needles in the outer side of the knee. It is a mildly annoying symptom and it does not impede running or walking, so most professional and amateur athletes tend to apply a little cooling cream on the knee and continue with their usual training and other physical activities.

 

If this initial warning sign is ignored, the IT band inflammation will aggravate and additional scarring will also occur. In time, pain in the knee will be more and more debilitating, at first while running when the heel hits the ground. However, during the more advanced stages, the pain becomes present even during regular walking and climbing stairs, to the point when it becomes debilitating, impeding all physical activities.

 

Getting Diagnosed

Usually, the diagnosis of IT band strain is very easy, even in the incipient phase. This is why it is important not to ignore the first symptoms, because the sooner you know what causes your knee pain, the simpler the treatment. Usually, a simple description of the symptoms experienced by the patient is sufficient to pinpoint the issue. In other situations, there is physical evidence showing that you suffer from IT band strain: the outer side of the knee is swollen and tender to the touch.

 

Your doctor may also assess the symmetry of the length of your legs, because IT band strain may cause one of your legs to appear shorter than the other, due to the fact that flexibility in the knee is lost and the leg does not stretch to its full length. If the strain is in its advanced stage, the doctor may also order a MRI in order to observe the exact extent of the damage done to the IT band.

 

Treatment Options

 

       1. Initial Phase of IT Band Strain

If you were cautious enough to go to the doctor after experiencing the first symptoms of IT band strain, the treatment is quite simple. You will be recommended to apply the RICE method for a few days. After you finished the first phase of treatment, you can benefit from topical massage and stretching exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the knee.

 

You can also use foam rollers at home. If the pain is above your tolerance level, you can also take over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or naproxen).

 

  1. Medium to Advanced Stage

This does not only mean that you have ignored your symptoms, but also the failure of the above home treatment options do not improve your conditions. In this case, the doctor will recommend a series of treatments which usually include phonophoresis (using ultrasounds to deliver medicines to the injured IT band), iontophoresis (when electricity is used instead of ultrasounds to deliver the treatment) or injections with corticosteroids.

 

  1. Severe Stage

The reason why you really should not ignore IT band strain is that at the final stage of this injury, the only treatment option is surgery. This will keep you away from the running track for a long time and you will have to work extremely hard to regain your previous performance level.

 

Ongoing Prevention

After your IT band has returned to its healthy condition, it is very important to identify what caused the strain and to prevent further occurrence. In many cases, the underlying cause is an incorrect running gait, which is corrected by changing the model of running shoes you are using or wearing orthotic inserts in your shoes. Your doctor and physical therapist will determine the best corrective measures which will help you avoid another IT band strain.


Running and Lower Back Pains: When You Should Seek Help

Lower back pain is more common among runners than any other athletes. It is a result of an inadequate gait or worn-out running shoes, and it can be ignored for a long time. Runners do not recognise the first signs of back stiffness as a serious situation, and the first mild pangs of pain are treated with a topical numbing gel.

Running and Lower Back Pains - When You Should Seek Help

What Causes Back Pain in Runners?

In many situations, runners do not realise that their entire body takes part in the running process, not just their legs. When the foot slaps down on the track, the energy of the impact is taken by the lower leg muscles and propagated upwards. In many cases, this is not a fluid process: at the conjunction of the upper and lower parts of the body, this impact is absorbed more roughly, causing a continuous tensing of the lower back muscles.

 

Over time, this continuous strain applied on the lower back can cause more serious complaints – the most serious being spondylolisthesis and sciatica.

 

How Can You Treat the First Signs of Back Pain?

It is important to address lower back pain in the early stages and not allow it to set in and become chronic. The most common types of early interventions in the case of back pain are:

 

  1. The RICE Method

The RICE method should become a runner’s ABC in case of any type of injury. For back pain, you can replace the icing with moist heat treatment during the first 72 hours, and focus a lot on resting and allowing your lower back muscles to relax. During this initial type of treatment, you can also take NSAIDs or over-the-counter pain medication (such as Paracetamol).

 

  1. Massage

Specialised relaxation massage (the Swedish method) applied by a licensed professional can be of great help to remove tension from the back muscles, and improve flexibility and blood flow to the area.

 

  1. Stretching

Your physical therapist can recommend a series of stretching exercises which will alleviate pain and tension, and release your tight muscles.

 

If your back pain persists after two weeks of applying these treatment procedures, you should consult a doctor before you develop one of the conditions we specified earlier in this article and which we will discuss now more in depth.

 

Sciatica

This is a condition where you feel numbness and a tingling sensation down one of the legs. In the more advanced phase, called the foot drop, you are unable to put any weight on the leg and support yourself.

 

Sciatica can be the result of a herniated disc – the disk situated in the lumbar region, which ensures the mobility of the spine when we bend forward and back. If this disc slips from its natural position, it can bulge out and press on a nerve. In the most advanced forms, this condition requires surgery, which may prevent you from running again.

 

Spondylolisthesis

Known as “the spondy” among doctors and patients, this condition occurs when two vertebrae slip one over the other, causing your spine to become unstable. This is not directly caused by running, because there should be a pre-existing structural problem in the spine morphology. However, running is known to be one of the factors which favour the worsening of this condition.
These two conditions can be disguised for a long time as the type of lower back pain which runners tend to ignore. This is why you should always react to the first signs, get an appointment with your doctor and determine whether it is just a temporary strain, or whether it could be something more serious.


Plantar Fasciitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common types of heel pains, and it occurs when you hurt the plantar fascia, which is a flat ligament connecting your heel bone to your toes. Overexertion, an incorrect posture while running or walking, or a misstep can cause the plantar fascia to stretch too much and become inflamed.

Aggravating Causes and Symptoms

If you continue to strain the already overtaxed ligament, small ruptures can occur and this is, in short, how plantar fasciitis sets in. The most common symptoms of this type of affliction are:

A sudden burst of pain in your foot when you stand up after sitting down for a long time, or early in the morning when you get up from bed;

Jolts of pain while you climb stairs;

Progressively increasing pain when you stand up for a long time;

Pain at the start of your warming-up routine which goes away as you start running, but returns after you stop exercising.

In general, the number one symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in your heel early in the morning as you take your first steps and at the end of physical exercising, but not during the actual running or cardio routine.

Treatment

There is no universal cure for plantar fasciitis. Each case is evaluated individually by a doctor and various types of treatments. However, surgery is the last resort, and the doctor will only recommend it if 6 to 12 months of alternative treatments did not solve the problems.

Patients can also help themselves by following these simple routines at home:

1.  Rest Your Foot

Allow your plantar fascia to heal by cutting back on the effort and giving it a good rest. Take a break from running or brisk walking for the next few days after you experience the type of pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Just like in the case of other types of muscle injuries, a good rest can do a lot of good.

2. Avoid Walking on Hard Surfaces

The granite or wooden floor in your home looks great, but does not feel so great for your injured foot. Buy some soft carpets and place them on the floors at least for a few weeks until your foot heals (you can keep them indeterminately if you like them, of course!).

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

3. Ice Your Foot

A pack of ice applied to your foot is both relaxing and healing. It numbs the pain and allows the inflammation to disappear little by little. Leave the ice pack there for 20-40 minutes and repeat every 4 hours.

4. Do Light Exercises

Toe stretches and towel stretches are extremely helpful. For the toe stretch, sit down on the floor, flex your knee and keep your leg up in the air with the back of the heel on the floor. Grab your toe with your hand and stretch it forward, toward the ankle. Hold the position for 15-20 seconds and repeat 4 times throughout the entire day.

For the towel stretch, as you sit down on the floor, with the feet straight in front of you, place your foot in the sling of a rolled towel, and hold the ends in your hands. Pull the ends of the towel, bending your foot forward. Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times.

5. Change Your Shoes

Last, but not least, replace your shoes (both for daily walking and your running shoes) with others with a cushioned sole and good arch support. Supplementary, you could wear orthotics in your regular shoes, until your plantar fasciitis heals.


Follow these simple tips, and you will feel a relief from the heel pain. At the same time, do not forget to be evaluated by a doctor and follow their recommendations.


Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is also known as Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee, is one of the most common types of injuries occurring in professional or amateur runners, accounting for 20% of all types of injuries.

The symptoms of runner’s knee start with mild pain under your kneecap while you are running. In the early stages, pain stops as soon as you stop running, so many people do not seeking medical help at once. However, if left untreated, the pain will increase in severity and will continue to affect you even after you have stopped running.

Recognising and Correcting Running Form Mistakes

The good news is that treatment for runner’s knee is simple, non-invasive and you can do it at home with minimum medical supervision. However, the most severe cases, left untreated for a long time, may require surgery. This should be a powerful enough reason not to ignore pain in your knee while you are running, and seek the doctor’s advice as soon as possible.

This being said, the usual path to recovery from runner’s knee looks like this:

First Stage: 2-3 Days of Complete Rest

You should avoid all types of effort and putting your body weight on the injured leg.

Runner’s knee is not only painful, it also causes swelling and inflammation in your knee,

so you should apply ice packs for 20-30 minutes every four hours.

It is also useful to find a pillow on which you can rest your injured knee in an elevated position. This will improve blood flow through the leg and help reduce swelling. During this period, you should keep your movements to a minimum and use crutches when you have to walk, so that you spare the injured knee all kinds of efforts.

Second Stage: First Light Exercises

There is no specific timeline for the recovery from runner’s knee, except for your doctor’s recommendations. However, as soon as you are cleared to start walking and applying some weight on the knee, you should do so wearing an elastic bandage to offer as much support to your knee as possible.

In parallel, your doctor may prescribe certain anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication of the non-steroidal type. This medication should be taken strictly according to the doctor’s prescription, because its side effects include bleeding and occurrence of ulcers.

Third Stage: Mobility and Strength Exercises

Once you can take off the elastic bandage, you should start a routine of specific exercises to regain mobility and strength. Stretching exercises are extremely effective and recommended by all physical therapists.

In parallel, you may use arch support for your foot, to correct your walking posture. Arch supports, or orthotics, are inserted in your shoes and offer firm support to your soles. They can be bought online or from shops, or they can be made bespoke; before you decide, ask your doctor or Physiotherapist about this. 

Complete Recovery

Just as with every other stage of runner’s knee treatment, you should ask your doctor before returning to your regular running routine. In general, you are completely cured when you feel absolutely no pain in your knee during walking and exercising, when you can fully bend and extend your knee with no pain and you can place as much body weight on it as you can on the healthy knee. It can be tricky and tough to come back from Runner’s Knee patellofemoral pain syndrome, but we are here to help. 


In conclusion, the runner’s knee is a frequent occurrence in runners, which can be treated very easily and without complex medical procedures if you seek medical advice as soon as you notice its first symptoms. So if you feel pain in your knee under your kneecap, even at bearable levels, do not ignore it. The sooner you act, the faster your recovery will be.


Achilles Tendon Injury – What Rehab is Forgetting

The Achilles tendon is at risk of injury with high load. Runners have a 15 times greater risk of Achilles rupture and 30 times greater risk of tendinopathy than sedentary individuals.

The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. The three calf muscle attach to the heal via the Achilles tendon.

“Overcoming what was deemed impossible is what I will take with me and cherish the most…That (coming back from injury) will be the number-one thing that stands out because I wasn’t even able to walk.”

– Donovan Bailey (Olympic 100 m sprinter talking about his rehab for his Achilles tendon rupture). After rehab he ran sub-10 seconds for the 100 metres.

Out of the 5 clinicians in Sports Physio Ireland, two of us were unfortunate to have suffered Achilles injuries. Myself a partial tear and Joey Boland a tendinopathy.  Depending on the severity of the injury the road to recovery is slightly different. The outcome of rehabilitation is positive, however, with us both returning to our representative sports. The partial tear taking slightly longer to adapt to return to play.

Recognising and Correcting Running Form Mistakes

Overuse Achilles tendon injuries (tendonopathies) can arise with increased training volume or intensity. This happens because the load is too much for the tendon to withstand. Decreased recovery time between training sessions may also be a factor. The combination of stiffness (especially in the morning) and pain at the back of the heal is a key sign of Achilles tendinopathy. Pain often reduces during activity and may be pain-free during training only to come back with a vengeance a few hours later. Continuing to train through this causes the structure of the tendon to weaken and puts you at an increased risk of rupture.

As well as looking at injury to the Achilles itself, it is important to determine the causes of the injury in the first place. Injury is often linked to calf tightness or weakness and ankle joint stiffness. Abnormal lower limb biomechanics has been shown to cause torsional stress through the tendon. Weakness around the ankles can cause a whipping like action on the Achilles. A change in playing surface or footwear or poor footwear should also be considered.

Tendons take longer to adapt to training due to their poor blood supply. Rehabilitation takes longer than muscular injuries and is generally in excess of 3 months. Rehabilitation should include loading the tendon appropriately and correcting of predisposing factors that were linked to the injury. Progressing to plyometric and sports-specific activities when the ability to withstand load increases. `

When running approximately 5 times your body weight goes through your foot as you land. The Achilles needs to be strong enough to withstand this force before you go back to running, jumping and landing. Rehabilitation often does not put enough weight through the structure during closed change activities before progressing to running. Heal raises with 15-20 kg, Reverse lunges with greater than 20kg, Squats of greater than 20kg and SLDL of 20 kg should be a realistic expectation for everyone before returning to play or their chosen activity. Distributing the weight through two separate dumbbells makes this achievable for those who struggle with upper body strength. When thinking about the high level of repetitive load that goes through the body when running these weights are not that heavy and are what the body needs to adapt.

Soft tissue therapy including mobilisation and  fractioning across the tendon are useful in improving the glide of the tendon in it’s sheath. As stickiness around the tendon is often associated with injury to the tendon.

Return to activity should be gradual.

Activity should be resumed only when local tenderness has settled and weights during rehab exercises achieved.

If long distance running is not the main aim then I would argue that the repetitive loading of that nature should be avoided. If sports are the main aim then interval running should be the focus. This is the nature of the activity they are trying to return to and also allows the tendon brief recovery periods.

Catherine Simpson

MISCP, MSc Sports Medicine

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Ankle Sprain Injury

At Sports Physio Ireland we see a lot of people with ankle injuries. The most common clients with these injuries are just after a classic ankle sprain injury. They go over on the outside of their ankle, hear a ‘pop’ and feel pain when they try to walk. The ankle then becomes swollen over the next few hours, limiting the range of motion in the joint.

Your ankle joint has 3 ligaments that help stabilise the joint and protect you from ‘going over on it.’ An awkward fall or forced inversion injury can rupture these ligaments. Often causing bruising to the surrounding bone surface. Swelling occurs as the body realises it is injured and begins the healing process. This is why your joint swells, it is promoting blood flow to the area to initiate healing. People are often obsessed with getting rid of ankle swelling or stopping it all together, but it is necessary for the first 36 hours.

Swelling increases the temperature and pressure in the joint resulting in quite a sensitive, hot, red coloured  joint. The best course of management for an ankle sprain is take the weight off it, use crutches or a physio boot. Swelling can be controlled in the first 36 hours by keeping the foot elevated as often as possible, submerging it in a bucket of ice for one minute at least 10 times throughout day one & two after the injury has occurred. A stretchy bandage also helps in this 36 hour window to keep the swelling under control.

At this point you must try regain full joint movement, through balance and strengthening exercises after the initial 36 hours. Once you have sufficient ankle balance and strength you can progress to hopping, straight line running, followed by cutting and change of direction drills, before you return to training.

Joey Boland

Head Physiotherapist and Dublin Senior Hurler

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Neck Pain: Four Ways to Reduce The Pain

Neck pain is fast becoming more and more prevalent in modern day life. The main triggers in the rise of neck pain seen include; poor posture, reduced activity levels, and prolonged periods of sitting.

While each persons case is completely unique and is treated as such. There is often similar issues and areas of dysfunctions found from patient to patient with neck pain.

Whether your MRI scan reads ‘disc bulge’ or ‘degeneration’ etc., very often the route cause of the issue is a lot more straightforward and can be alleviated with a combination of exercise, changes in activity, and rest.

I’m certainly not a person who thinks that it’s feasible to spend all day, everyday sustaining 100% perfect posture. No chance. It’s simply not realistic. However, I do believe that by introducing simple postural cues a few of times a day, coupled with some simple exercises can make a big difference and help you on the road to full recovery!

Here are 4 of the exercises that I find to be very beneficial with some of my clients suffering from neck pain. Give them a go.


neck pain, physio dublin 2

1.) The Chin Tuck
neck pain

2.) The Band Row

scap push up, neck pain, dublin 2

3.) The Scapular Push Up

neck pain, dublin 2 physio

4.) The One Arm Lat Pull Down

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Treatment for Achilles’ Tendon Injuries

The Achilles’ tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It is made up of three different muscles and has a different type of sheath than the other tendons – a porous one, allowing blood to flow to the tendon itself. These particularities of the Achilles’ tendon explain in a great measure why its injury is considered one of the most serious ones both by doctors and physical therapists.

How do you know that you have hurt your Achilles’ tendon? In the lighter forms of the injuries, you feel constant pain in the heel and its back. This kind of pain usually signals an inflammation, either of the porous sheath or of the tendon itself. Left untreated properly (i.e. when you only apply topical treatment for pain relief), the inflammation may get worse over time and lead to rupture – the most serious form of Achilles’ tendon injury that leaves patients unable to walk properly, run or climb stairs.

Stage 1 – Diagnose

If you believe that you have suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury, it is very important to seek medical attention immediately and not attempt to put further stress on the injured leg. As explained above, even intermittent pain in the heel may signify an injury of the Achilles’ tendon, so do not self-treat the pain, ignoring its cause.

The most common test performed by doctors to determine a clear diagnosis is called the Thompson test: you will be asked to lie on your stomach, while the examining doctor will squeeze your calf. In healthy individuals, this action will result in a flexion of the foot. If your tendon is injured, your foot will not produce this response.

Stage 2 – Treatment

Depending on the severity of the case, the doctor may recommend either surgery or non-surgical treatment. The most common form of treatment is surgery, which is a routine procedure for medical professionals. It is the first choice for treatment in young, active athletes, and healthy individuals which do not suffer from conditions which pose a high risk in case of surgery.

Achilles’ tendon surgery can be either open or closed. Open surgery involves an incision allowing the surgeon to see the tendon clearly. Closed surgery is performed through several small incisions.  However, in both situations a cast or postoperative boot is applied on the injured leg to allow complete healing without risk of renewing the injury.

Stage 3 – Recovery

Once your doctor confirms that your injury has healed and you may begin the recovery phase, you should contact a physical therapist, who will develop a specific routine to regain mobility in your ankle. The purpose of the recovery plan after Achilles’ tendon injury is to strengthen the tendon again, and to recover the mobility and stability in walking and running.

The most common types of physical therapy are:

Stretching – Stretching and flexibility routines are essential for a complete recovery. Your therapist will start with light routines, and progressively increase their complexity until you achieve complete mobility in your ankle.

Deep massage – Professional massage therapy is aimed at stimulating blood flow, helping your muscles and tendons recover, and preventing further injuries.

Throughout the treatment and recovery procedures, it is extremely important to follow your doctor’s and therapist’s recommendations and not attempt any kind of physical effort involving the injured leg. Achilles’ tendon injuries are some of the most serious types of running injuries and, if untreated properly, may leave you unable to run properly and unable to put your full body weight on your leg.


How to Prevent the Most Common Running Injuries

Running is one of the most common types of exercising for busy people. They can install a treadmill in their home, or wake up early and do a quick run around the block before heading off to work. In many cases, casual runners are at risk for various types of injuries, from the runner’s knee to plantar fasciitis.

These injuries are usually caused by not warming up sufficiently, maintaining an incorrect posture and not following a routine for cooling down after a run. These small things can have a significant impact on the way your body holds up during a run.

So, what are the most efficient tactics to prevent these types of injuries? These quick tips will help you stay in shape, exercise correctly and prevent painful injury to your legs during your runs:

 

1. Add Strength Exercises

 

Running involves a lot of effort for your muscles – all your muscles. Your legs do not do all the work, but also your arms and your back. Keeping a good posture during running is critical and this requires trained muscles which can withstand intense effort.

You can build more strength through simple and easy exercises which you can do at home, such as:

Wall presses: standing with your left side next to a wall, bend your left knee at 90 degrees and then press the knee against the wall, without touching it with your shoulder. Hold the position, turn around and repeat with your right leg.

Single-leg balance: with one foot in the air, balance all your weight on the forefoot of the other leg (the heel should be in the air, as if you try to stand on your toes). Hold the pose for 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Stability ball bridge: lying down, lift both legs and prop your ankles and calves on a stability ball. Lift up the arms until your body is parallel to the floor. Repeat the exercise until you can do it with ease and comfort.

 

2. Respect the 10 Percent Rule

 

You may feel tempted to increase the distance of your run from one day to another in order to increase your fitness and performance. However, the healthy rule for increasing running distance is 10 percent. Small increments will help your body adapt to more effort and longer-distance runs. In this way, you can achieve top performance without risking injuries and overtaxed muscles.

 

3. Change Your Running Shoes

 

Running shoes are not just there so that you do not run bare-footed. They are specifically designed to offer your ankle optimal support and help you maintain a correct stepping position during your run. As they become worn out with use, the running shoes stop being so efficient, causing you to strain your ankle tendons, or even sidestep and suffer a sprain.

This is why you should keep track of the total distance you run wearing a pair of shoes and change them before you reach 600 miles (965 km). Keeping several pair of shoes and using them in rotation is not such a great idea, because you will lose track of the actual distance you ran in each pair. Plus, once your feet become accustomed to a specific pair of shoes, changing them too frequently can negatively impact your stepping gait and posture.

 

4. Develop a Cool Down Routine

 

In school, your PE teacher used to remind you not to stop running suddenly, but slow down progressively. This is very wise advice which you should remember as you are about to finish your daily run. Your muscles are in full swing and stopping all effort suddenly will cause them a lot of harm, just like suddenly turning off a huge engine from maximum power.

So, instead of stopping, ease from running into a power walk, and then progressively ease down to regular walking. In this way, you will help your body unwind from the intense effort.

Remember: be kind to your body, listen to its signs and know your limitations, and you will be able to enjoy your daily run without risk of injury.