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Get Comfortable Shoes continued...

 

The most important thing is to find shoes that fit your feet well, he says. That's more important than the label or model.

 

"In any industry you find a lot of marketing. If they could sell you a jogging shoe for Monday and a basketball shoe for Tuesday and a cross-trainer for Wednesday, they'd like that," he says. "For most people who are jogging as a recreational activity, many shoe styles can work, but good shoe fit is critical."

 

If possible, go to a shoe store where a trained professional is available to fit you, advises Robert B. Anderson, MD. "If you just pull shoes off the shelf yourself, you may not realize they're too short until problems develop." Anderson, an orthopaedic surgeon, is the chairman of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society's public education committee.

 

To find the best shoes:

 

  • Remember that your foot size varies throughout the day. Try on new shoes after you've exercised or at the end of the day.
  • Take the same socks you'll use for jogging. They should fit well, be made without seams, and have a fair amount of cotton. If you use extra-thick socks while running, select shoes with enough room.
  • Fit the shoe to your longest toe, which is often your second toe. You should have at least 1/4 inch of space beyond your longest toe.
  • The shoe should grip your heel firmly.
  • While the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to wiggle all your toes.
  • Shoes should be comfortable when you first try them on. Don't buy shoes and plan to "break them in" by wearing them.

Skip the Pedometer

While you can find gadgets that record the distance you've traveled while jogging, none of the experts we consulted think they're worth the trouble. "Just run on a measured track and use a stopwatch if you want to record your time," says Salazar.

 

"Pedometers are fairly hard to use," Ravick says. "You have to measure your stride, and many people can't figure out how to set up the gadget. I advise people to drive a distance in the neighborhood and measure it with the car's speedometer."

 

Stretch to Reduce Injury, Boost Flexibility

Before your workout, stretch your hamstrings, lower back, quadriceps, and calf muscles. Stretching exercises should follow a stretch/hold/relax pattern. Don't bounce or pull the muscles.

 

While stretching before you run is good, stretching afterward is even more important, Salazar says. Stretch all the major muscle groups.

 

"Allow two to four minutes beforehand for stretching, and five to 10 minutes afterward," he says. "When you stretch while your muscles are warm, after you've run, that's when you really increase your flexibility and range of motion."

 

The single most important stretch you can do is stretching the Achilles' tendon, Pfeffer says. "As people jog more, their muscles develop and become tighter. When you have a tight Achilles' tendon it makes you more prone to tendinitis, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and problems with the front of your foot.

 

Stretching that tendon just before you jog is not enough. If you're in a sports program, you should stretch your Achilles' tendon three or four times a day, for 30 seconds each time.

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