Running isn’t just for the young anymore. In fact, an increasing number of older adults are running into their 50s and 60s. The benefits include improved cardiovascular health, greater endurance, and a boost in independence and self-esteem. However, running isn't a hobby you should pick up lightly, no matter your age. To avoid injury and maximize the benefits, remember to keep all of these tips in mind.
When we’re young, muscles are naturally more springy and elastic, allowing us to jump into any activity at a moment’s notice. As we age, we can still enjoy all the same activities, just as long as we give our bodies a chance to warm up to physical exertion. This is the purpose of stretching.
The first step to an effective stretch is choosing the right one. Stick with options that focus on your quads and hamstrings, as these are put under the most strain during a run.
Second, safe stretching requires a proper form. Improperly stretching, or over-stretching can do more harm than good, damaging the muscles you’re trying to protect. For best results, choose simple exercises that you can learn online, or join a class where you can learn safe and effective running stretches.
If you need a bit of help with leg stretches, a stretch strap can be a good option. It simplifies the process while opening up new stretching options for you to try.
When the rubber meets the road, one crucial factor is arch support. Think of your arches as your body’s main shock absorber, allowing you to hit the ground running and then spring into the next stride. Whi0le they are a crucial part of any jog, this also means that they are put under the most strain.
That’s why finding the right pair of insoles is so important. They help cushion the entire sole while providing the support your arch needs to function at its peak. While making your run more comfortable, they also help protect against painful conditions like plantar fasciitis.
Fitness trackers have grown majorly in popularity, and rightfully so. Wearing a fitness tracker can help you set and track goals, motivate and hold you accountable, give you a snapshot of your health, track your sleep, and even set alerts and reminders. If you exercise frequently, you should consider investing in one. Most models will track vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, and SpO2 which can help keep you safe on your runs and ensure you’re not overdoing it.
One running tip that doesn’t require any equipment is learning how to run properly. While it might seem obvious, the fact is many people go into running without any idea of how to practice proper form. This can lead to greater wear and tear on your joints, which can be especially disastrous for older adults.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to running form, but here are some basics to keep in mind:
Heat and ice therapy is a great way to make sure your legs get the TLC they need after your run. Heat is a good way to boost your body’s natural healing mechanisms, improving blood flow. On the other hand, cold therapy is a good way to relieve pain in your joints that can be caused by running. To make so you’re practicing effective hot and cold therapy, take a look at our full guide for more information.
An Ice Knee Brace can be a good option to deliver targeted hot or cold therapy directly to the knee. Since it straps right onto the joint, you can keep your hands free during the process.
Especially for older adults, the concept of pacing yourself is vital. Overexerting your heart, lungs, or legs can cause long-term injury or other health complications. That’s why it’s best to go at a pace that’s comfortable and take regular breaks.
A good rule of thumb is to walk one minute for every 20 to 25 minutes you spend running. This lets your cardiovascular system catch up to your muscles’ oxygen consumption. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, regular breaks let you reset your running form, protecting your bones and muscles from injury.
Above all else, never keep running if you feel pain. This can be a sign that something is wrong, and should be followed immediately by a break, preferably sitting down.
As any athlete can tell you, the time you spend recovering is just as important as the time you spend running. That means taking a few minutes after your run to cool down, and then running through your regular routine of stretches and self-massage.
In addition to your immediate post-run recovery, you should think about the hours and days that follow as well. During this time, a Leg Compression System is a perfect way to manage blood pressure so you’re running in top form next time you go out.
Running is a great way to improve lower body strength and cardiovascular health, but it is most effective when combined with other forms of exercise. If you run too frequently, you can cause a muscle imbalance that can create serious health problems down the line.
Ideally, try running for one or two days a week, and then incorporate at least one day of cross-training per week to supplement. Bodyweight exercises, group fitness classes, or light weight lifting are all good options.
There’s no age limit for running, as long as you’re able to tailor your routine to your individual health needs. By following the tips above, you can run late in life and reap the rewards that come with this timeless form of exercise.