Commentary: Take it slow when beginning to run

With the weather improving I’m often asked about how to make running a successful part of a workout regimen to meet fitness goals. Juggling work, family and various obligations it can often be a struggle to “fit” in fitness. With time being the only thing slim, often the goal is to maximize your activity in as little time as possible. There is saying, “If you find yourself going in circles, perhaps you’re cutting too many corners.” This can often be the case for your body if you jump right into running without being aware of the demands and needs before that first step.

Running is about listening to your body

Running has the capacity to highlight your biomechanical inefficiencies or quirks and it often reflects them with pain and disability. As you initiate any fitness program, pain should not be a part of it. The theory of “No pain, No gain” is a myth. Pain is often our body’s way of letting us something is wrong and when we ignore these signs, we can get lost in a world of pain.

Running is about change

Physiologically, our bodies adapt over time and our exercise and activities often need to change as well. Having realistic and attainable goals for running often keep us centered and successful instead of frustrated and defeated. Most recent fitness fads are often centered around rapid and extreme movements. Having an appreciation for how your body moves or doesn’t can help you avoid certain activities that place you at higher risk of injury. Not all movement is good movement!

Running is about balance

Gradual and diverse training is often the best approach for successful outcomes. Stress fractures, tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are often encountered when one repetitive task or series of tasks are completed over and over again. Diversifying your exercising portfolio can help you to avoid the stress and strain that leads to joint breakdown or painful soft tissue injuries. Believe it or not, resting and recovery are often a more important part of exercise. Having your foot on the exercise accelerator can often lead to disastrous consequences.

Running is about the big picture

The benefits of daily exercise have been well documented for improving your quality of life, which should be the ultimate goal. Understanding that running requires preparation, like any trip, can help you get to your body to its desired destination. If you have questions about whether running should be a part of your regimen, reach out to your primary care doctor and ask about a referral for a physical therapy evaluation.

If you’re in need of a primary care doctor, you can call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627) or visit to learn more about our doctors.

Joshua Smith, PT, DPT, MDT, is manager of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Bayhealth Sussex Campus.

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