Thursday, June 15, 2017

Couch to 5K-The Essentials

Couch to 5K –The Essentials 

The spring and summer months are popular times of the year when runners get out and run local races. This is also the time of year when we as physical therapists see a lot of overuse injuries. Make sure that when you are getting back into running or starting for the first time that you do it properly. This means that your couch to 5K program should include stretching, a gradual build up in your mileage, and rest/cross-training days. 

It is important to stretch when your start running program. Why?
 As your muscles get stronger they will also hypertrophy or get bigger. If you don’t stretch during this time then the muscles get tighter.  Some common muscles that you want to make sure that you stretch would include hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus, and piriformis.

A gradual build up to running is also important.
It can be different for everyone but it is recommended that you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. For very beginner runners, it is recommended that you don’t increase your mileage for the first 3-4 weeks and that you only go for runs 2-3 times per week.  It is also recommended that you start with some ¼ mile intervals of running and walking for the first week until you can comfortably run a mile or two in the next 2-3 weeks. Once you can then comfortably run 2-3 miles without stopping then you can start increasing your mileage by 10% every week or every other week.

For more advanced runners, that same principle works. If you are trying to increase mileage to be able to run your first half or full marathon you should be increasing your mileage by only 10% each week and only running 3-4 times a week with one of those runs being your long run for the week.

The days not spent running should be supplemented with cross-training or strengthening workouts.

Cross-training just means training by doing some other type of exercise to supplement their running program. These activities generally try to focus on building strength and flexibility in other muscles that running doesn’t utilize.  Some good examples of cross-training include swimming, biking/cycling, golf, barre or Zumba classes, BodyPump classes, yoga, kayaking, and strength training.  

If you start to have pain, first try some stretching and rest.  If it doesn’t get better in a couple weeks then it would be a good idea to make an appointment with your favorite PTW Physical Therapist!

Happy Running!

Stephanie McDougal, PT, DPT

Clinical Supervisor – Souderton

 PTW’s Stephanie McDougal, PT, DPT is the Clinical Supervisor at our Souderton clinic. For an initial evaluation, call Steph at 215 855 1160 today for an appointment as soon as possible!