Are you running correctly?

Running incorrectly can injure you. Fitness expert Leena Mogre tells you how to step right

If you are planning to participate in the marathon, or want to just include running in your daily fitness routine, congratulations on your decision. Good on you for picking a easy, low investment, high returns and most of all, highly effective form of exercise.

Running is great cardio and it improves the body's immunity while reducing the risk of stroke and cancer. It's a complete exercise that tones calves, thighs, abdominal, back and shoulder muscles. It strengthens the heart's capacity to pump more blood and lungs' capacity to extract oxygen from the air, relieving stress. Best of all, it slows down the ageing process.

But before you take flight, you've got to get your posture and form right to save yourself from injury and get the most out of your jog. Leena Mogre helps you gear up for the dream run.

The right way to run
Keep your body straight while running. A slouching posture leads to deactivation of muscles in parts of the body, especially the back, causing injury. An upright posture puts less pressure on the knees and facilitates a swifter run. Some people clutch their fists too tight and transfer the rigidity to rest of the body. Keep you arms enough so that even if you were holding a wafer, it wouldn't break.

Don't stomp
Hear the sound your feet are making to know if you are running right. If there is absolutely no sound then you are running perfectly. You must land on the peds of your feet, below your toes, putting pressure neither on the heel nor on the toes. Letting your feet fall loose on the ground with a stomping action sends shock waves to the shin bone, the knees and the back, causing injury.

Hydrate your body
People experience pain on the one side of the stomach after running for sometime. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for the same. Having a glass of water (at room temperature) 30 minutes before running can help avoid the pain. Dehydration can also cause muscle crams. If your routine lasts more than 30 minutes, sip water or sports drinks that have glucose and essential salts lost through sweating. Running on an empty stomach may lead to dizziness. Having a banana 15-20 minutes before.

Breathe through the nose
Breathing through the mouth dehydrates and tires you quickly. Breathe through the nose if you want to run for a longer time.

Over running is harmful
Build stamina gradually by starting to run for at least five minutes. Your muscles take time to get used to running. Pay attention that there is no strain on your lungs or leg muscles while running. If you feel any kind of cramp, it's better to stop and take rest. Stretch your schedule by five minutes every two to three days and see if you are comfortable completing the target.

Get the right shoes
Many people run in casual sneakers which are not meant for running. It could cause serious harm to the knees because the shoes are not designed to support body weight while running. Buying a branded pair which has been designed for the specific purpose after scientific research. People with flat feet should opt for shoes with an orthotic insole, which provides an artificial arch to supplement better body posture and feet co-ordination.

Running should start with warm-up, followed by stretching, running, cool down and stretching again. Breaking into sweat is a sign that your body is ready for strenuous physical activity.

Strengthen calves and shin
After the heart muscle, which works the hardest while running, the calf muscles are the most used. They help regulate blood flow from bottom to top. Standing and sitting calf raises help strengthen them. Stand on a raised surface such that the heels are lower than the toes. Put your weight on the toes and raise you heels as far as you can. Fall back again and perform three sets of 20 repetitions. Sit on your toes on a platform, raise your heels and bring them down again. Flex your calves at the top of this movement for one count. Return to the start position and repeat. The shin muscles take the weight of the body when the foot lands on the ground. To strengthen it, rest your heel on a raised surface such that the toes are on a lower level. Raise the toes up and down for 20 repetitions. Do three sets.

Quit smoking
The heart and lungs come under immense stress while r u n n i n g . S m o k i n g before running reduces the capacity of lungs to pump oxygen.

- The running body burns muscle, so the activity has to be supplemented with proper diet so that you don't lose muscle mass. Include a lot of carbohydrates, protein and calcium content in your diet.

- To strengthen shins, rest your heel on a raised surface such that the toes are on a lower level. Raise the toes up and down for 20 repetitions. Do three sets

- Stand on a raised surface with heels are lower than the toes. Come up on toes and fall back. Do 20 repetitions in three sets to strengthen calves

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