The thrill (and aches) of running on different terrains


By AGENCY

Good trail running shoes are weatherproof and well-matched to the ground conditions and your running style. — 123rf.com

Say goodbye to paved roads and flat paths. You’re headed off on a trail run – an obstacle-packed jog through meadows, forests and rough paths.

Here’s what you need to get started.

Lace up your trainers, head out into the fresh air, and go!

Regular runs are healthy.

They strengthen your cardiovascular system, not to mention clear your head.

And if jogging around the block on flat, paved surfaces isn’t your thing, you could try trail running, which is similar to road running but done on natural terrain.

“Trail runners not only have to overcome obstacles like stones and pebbles, but – in hilly terrain – ascents and descents as well,” says Ingo Froböse, head of the Institute of Exercise Therapy and Exercise-Oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation at the Cologne-based German Sport University.

While trail running is engagingly varied, it presents special challenges to your joints, tendons and ligaments.

“Unpaved surfaces naturally pose a greater risk of injury,” says Dr Thomas Schneider, an orthopaedic and sports medicine specialist at Gelenk Klinik orthopaedic hospital in Gundelfingen, Germany, where he heads the Foot and Ankle Surgery Centre.

“Trail running is only for experienced runners,” Froböse says.

In other words, you should be in good physical condition and have full mastery of jogging techniques.

“It’s best to first have a check-up by an orthopaedist or sports medicine specialist to see if you’re suited for trail running,” he advises.

If the doctor gives you the thumbs-up, there are trail running workshops where you can learn optimal technique.

“Instruction by specialists can help beginners avoid running-form mistakes,” Dr Schneider notes.

It also pays to get yourself a good pair of trail running shoes, he says.

They should be weatherproof, well-cushioned and geared to the running surface and your running style.

As Dr Schneider explains, “Some runners are forefoot strikers (the balls of their feet strike the ground first), while others tend to be heel strikers.”

Or your running style may lie in between, in which case you’re a midfoot striker.

If you’re looking for suitable trail running routes, mountain bike trails are a possibility.

Froböse advises beginners to do 80% of their runs on normal jogging routes at first and just 20% on trails.

“Trail running is much more strenuous than jogging, so please don’t try to set any personal records,” warns Dr Schneider.

“It’s essential before any kind of running, be it jogging or trail running, to warm up properly,” Froböse emphasises.

This includes making wide, rotating motions with your shoulders, hips and ankles as well as repeatedly bending your knees. Stretching your calf and thigh muscles is also important.

And you mustn’t forget to warm up your feet too.

Froböse recommends rocking back and forth on them while standing: forward on your toes and backward on your heels.

You can also do feet circling: While standing, lift one leg and make circular motions with your foot. Then switch legs.

If you venture onto hilly terrain, you should run uphill first.

When you run downhill, your leg drops a little farther than normal with each stride, and your quadriceps and calf muscles contract eccentrically (i.e. elongate) to help you catch your body weight when your foot strikes the ground.

“It’s predestined to cause delayed onset muscle soreness,” Dr Schneider says.

There’s another thing that trail running newbies should keep in mind: “Never run alone,” says Froböse.

If you take a nasty fall, it’s good to have someone with you who can provide first aid or summon help. – dpa

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Trail running , Mountain bike , Jogging

   

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