Striding into Spring: Key tips for a Smooth Transition to Running Outdoors by Lauren Aplington PT,DPT

Whether you are returning to running after taking the winter months off or transitioning from running on the treadmill to running outside, there are some key factors to consider before heading out the door.

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Check your shoes

Making sure you have the proper footwear is important before you make the transition. Going to a specialized running store or speaking to your healthcare provider will better ensure the right shoe for your foot and what goals you’re looking to achieve. You want to make sure you’re getting the proper support for your foot and you can do so by purchasing the correct size, and width of your foot. Generally, I choose a size bigger for my running shoe compared to my everyday shoe. You want to make sure your shoe is not too narrow and squeezing at the mid to fore foot and that your toes aren’t hitting the front of the shoe. Also keep track of how many miles you have put on your shoes. If you are running about 20 miles a week, you would want to check and change your shoes about every 6 months. If you run more miles, changing your shoe every season may be the best suggestion for you.


Warm up/stretches

It can be easier to remember before you hop on the treadmill at the gym that you need to perform stretches and warm up, and the same suggestions apply to running outside. You can start your warm up by doing a 5 minute light jog then finishing with dynamic stretches to warm up those muscles you will be using during your run. Here are some stretches you can include:

  • Front and back leg swings
  • Side to side leg swings
  • Alternating high knees walking or with hop
  • Ankle movement point and flex with hamstring stretch

Gradual Transition Outside

If you are starting up running after taking a winter hiatus, remember to start fresh on setting some achievable goals. Your endurance and distance will need a restart to get back to where you left off at the end of the summer. Judging your efforts and not by your pace or distance is the key. If you are transitioning from running on the treadmill to running outside, start by running outside 1-2 days a week and continue some runs on the treadmill. Gradually transition your runs outside. You must keep in mind that the effort of running outside is greater than running on the treadmill, in most situations that is. There is more effort exerted outside by propelling yourself forward compared to keeping up with moving ground underneath you on a treadmill. Think about decreasing your mileage and pace at first and work your way back up to where you were on the treadmill. Other factors can also make running outside more difficult, such as weather, terrain, and air quality.


Pick Your Terrain

A treadmill has a more forgiving surface then asphalt or concrete. To avoid injury, it is recommended to transition to a softer surface outside such as a path or running trail. Also switch up what direction on the trail you run so your body is getting the same forces from the different slants of the surface.

Ask your physical therapist if you need to review any other tips. If you are not currently in physical therapy and are experiencing pain, call ARC today to schedule a free consultation.



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