Resolutions and Running Tips

We are a few weeks into 2020, and it’s a perfect time to check in on those New Year’s Resolutions. Did you make a resolution? How is that resolution going? If you are doing well with what you’re doing, that’s great. You’ve probably made some changes in your habits. Even if you’ve gotten off track, you can always start again. Now, today, forget that, throw away that resolution and start over and just say, “Hey, I’m going to make a change.” And running is a great place to start.

My new year’s resolution was to run more. I have a love-hate relationship with running, so I absolutely hate it when I’m doing the act of running; it’s my least favorite time of the day. I am gasping, hating every second of it. But after I get done, I feel like a hero for the rest of the day. No matter how it went, it could have been my slowest run ever, but I still feel grateful for the rest of the day. My endorphins are kicking, I’m feeling good, and that’s why I do it. That’s my love-hate relationship with running.

So today we’re going to talk a little bit about running because I think that it could be good for many of my patients. I think a lot of trainers out there these days, maybe a lot of celebrities out there these days, have kind of thrown the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to running and they’re now on to something bigger and better. Oh no, running is not for you. It has to be a Peloton bike. No, it can’t be running. It has to be something in the gym. Strength training only. Here’s my argument for why I have my love-hate relationship with running, and maybe you should too.

So have you ever had a friend or somebody that you know that says, “Yeah, every morning I wake up, and I take a cold shower. And I do that because then the rest of my day can only get better from there”? Well, I think that is the laziest way to start your day off on the wrong foot. If you’re going to go about it and it’d be like, “That was the worst part of my day, so now my day can only get better,” do something that’s actually meaningful for you. A cold shower, you’re just standing there in cold water. The health benefits for that are there. There’s a health benefit for it, believe it or not, but it’s teeny, teeny, tiny compared to 100 other things I can think of that you’re doing. Start your day with a kale shake. That’s going to have 10 million other benefits for you versus just taking a cold shower.

For me, it’s that run. I get up, I take the kids to school, I go do that run, and it’s easily the least favorite thing of the day. But once that’s out of the way, then it’s like, “Okay, hey, now the rest of my day can start.” So, let me talk you into running just a little bit.
First and foremost, we get this question all the time in the office, does running cause osteoarthritis of the knees? And the flat answer, and we’ve done the research, is no, it does not. Running by itself does not cause arthritis of the knees. Really important there. So you can’t say that it’s got this negative effect and that’s the reason that I don’t do it. You can say that “I hate it and that’s why I don’t do it. And I hate it.” But running is one of the best things minute for minute that you can do for yourself. And it doesn’t cause osteoarthritis any more than an exercise like swimming.

It’s really important to have good form when you’re running. You can’t just jump into it. Here are a couple of tips about how to keep good form and good habits when you’re going from walking to running or jumping right into running, that might do very well for you.

Running Tip Number 1: Avoid Crossover Gait

First, you can’t have a crossover gait. When one foot kind of swings in front of the other foot, you put a lot of taxing energy onto your feet. Your feet start to turn inward, your knees start to wobble inward, and then your hips get a lot of pressure on the outsides. You don’t’ want it to feel like you’re running on a tight rope. It should feel like one foot stays on one side, and the other foot stays on the other side in that tempo.

That form is going to make sure that you don’t end up with any kind of knee injuries or ankle injuries or hip injuries that shouldn’t be there. Run with your feet about pelvic width wide as you’re going about your running. Terrain changes a lot of things. If you’re on an incline or decline, it changes how your gait functions. You should always make sure, no matter what kind of terrain you’re on, that your feet stay side to side, not one over the other. Make sure to avoid that crossover gait.

Running Tip Number 2: Choose the Right Shoes

Let’s get into shoes just a little bit because I get asked weekly, what kind of shoes should I be wearing? And the shortest answer I can give you is, I don’t know. You should go to Track Shack and have them measure your feet, take the shape of the bottom of your foot, and then give you their idea of what shoe you should be wearing. Because they do that every day. I can inspect your foot; I can give you, “Yes, you’re a little bit pronated. No, you don’t have much of an arch, etc.,” but they’re actually going to use technology to do that. And they have the product right there to show you here’s what you actually need. So even if we were to come to a conclusion at my office, “Here’s what your feet are shaped like,” I still don’t have a shoe to present to you to say, “This is exactly what you should be wearing.”

If you’ve never thought about the shape of your foot, that is a really important piece of the shoe that you’re buying. It doesn’t matter what label goes on the side; it matters how it controls your foot making the motion that your foot is making. If your running stride changes just a little bit, and then the shape of your foot will alter the shoe that you should be wearing. If you have a running shoe store near you that can measure feet and size of your feet, that’s who you should be asking these questions to, because these are the people that are the most concerned with that athletic shoe and how it is going to work with your foot to make sure that you don’t get an injury.

Running Tip Number 3: Follow the 10 Percent Rule

When you start a running program, you have to avoid progressing too fast, because we see this all the time. We start to see injuries that second week of January from people doing too much the first week of January with a resolution to get healthy. People arrive with their new injuries, and it’s because they’re progressing too fast. You should use the 10% rule when you’re thinking about your exercise. Whatever you did this week, you’re going to add 10%, and that’s what you are going to do next week.
If you ran 10 miles this week, you’re going to add a little bit to each run so that you’re doing 11 miles next week. It’s not going to go from 10 to 40, otherwise, you’re going to be injured, and you’re going to come see me, and then you’re going to go back to zero. The 10% rule is what you should be doing each and every week to up that running distance or those running times. And that’s without even talking about the best performance, that’s just talking about the total overall distance that you should be doing.

Running Tip Number 4: Build Strength First

The last thing that we’re seeing a lot of is people who are starting to run, but who are not strong enough to be doing the running. If you haven’t done a squat or lunge in any recent history, if you have to think right now to figure out the last time you did a squat or lunge, running is not for you. Do you know what’s for you? Squats and lunges. So your legs need to be strong enough to carry your body and to propel your body forward. If you’re not doing things to strengthen your legs on the regular, like squats and lunges, then your body’s not going to be ready to propel you forward.

No matter how good your running shoes are, no matter how much you practice the 10% rule, no matter how good your stride is, you need to have strong legs. You need to be doing squats and lunges. Here on our blog, you can see videos about how to perform squats and lunges. If you feel pain with your exercising, we are here for you. We can help you evaluate what injury you might have and come up with the ideal treatment plan to get those resolutions back on track.

About Dr. Merrill

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Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.