Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.
A trip, a fall or a twist: Any of them can land you in pain, and it would be easy to blame your injury on the movement itself.
But the root cause may actually be very different.
Philip Agostinelli, a physical therapist and clinic manager at Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, says inactivity is the true source of many injuries.
He has five tips to help you find a cardio routine that helps you sidestep the pain and frustration of injury.
Don't rush it!
No matter where you start on a running journey, pace yourself. Agostinelli has seen plenty of runners whose training was pushed too hard, too fast.
As a rule of thumb, run 10 percent farther each week. If you run 10 miles one week, make it 11 the week after.
Mix it up
One of the best ways to prevent running injuries is to broaden your exercise horizons.
"I often tell runners to cross-train: to bike, swim or try another form of exercise," Agostinelli says. "It's probably the single most important thing you can do to prevent injuries. "
Low-impact workouts such as bicycling and swimming are ideal for runners because they rest battered joints and work new muscles.
Despite the key role of flexibility and mobility in preventing injury, there continues to be debate about the best ways and times to stretch.
Agostinelli says he advises runners to warm-up before activity, but save the toe touches until you're done.
"I recommend some brisk walking or a light jog beforehand, and hold off on the static stretches until afterward," he says. That said, "a tight, worked muscle should be stretched," he adds.
Work out at work
A desk might seem like a pretty safe place. But physical therapists see plenty of patients whose pain can be traced back to inactivity.
"We're not made to sit for long periods of time," Agostinelli says.
Standing desks help, but there are also steps you can take to avoid injury without even getting up. Here are a few:
- Shoulder rolls: Rotate your shoulders in a circular motion, forward and backward.
- Neck stretch: Sitting with your feet on the ground and shoulders back, grab your chair with your left hand. Then slowly bring your right head toward your right shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Hip strength often overlooked
Knee pain is quite common in runners, Agostinelli says, and a lot of it could be avoided with better muscle strength.
"Your problem is going to be at the hips, nine times out of 10," he says. That's because our glutes and other muscles play key roles in stabilizing our knees.
A good place to start strengthening your hip is with clamshells, which are performed while laying on your side with knees bent. Slowly raise and lower your top knee.
For Florida Hospital physical therapists, uncommon compassion means enlisting patients as full partners in recovery and prevention.
"When patients understand the purpose, the why, that's where you're going to get total buy-in," Agostinelli says.