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Flexible running schedule helps prevent injuries

June 20, 2014

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Marathon training requires a pretty strict schedule. If you’re a mom, however, time is not always on your side. “Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Lacy Jennings, a physical therapist at the Duke Sports Medicine. “But it can make sticking to a regular running routine a challenge.”

Having a flexible routine is the only way you’ll stay the course and reduce your risk of injury.

Jennings’ running schedule revolves around her job, her husband’s schedule, and her two children - ages one and three. She believes trouble looms for moms or new runners who cut corners by skipping the warm up or cool down, adding miles too fast, or not incorporating strength and flexibility training into their weekly workout.

There’s not a lot moms can do about time constraints, but there are many ways to decrease injury risk. That may mean squeezing in a short run when a long one is on the schedule. It’s just as important to swap in flexibility, core and strength training when you can’t get to a run at all. 

“All runners need a global exercise program that includes strength training, core and flexibility at least three times per week,” says Jennings.

If you can’t get to your scheduled run, you can still get in a great workout by:

  • Exercising inside during naptime
  • Running on a treadmill or use an elliptical machine or stationary bike
  • Running up and down the stairs
  • Doing jumping jacks or jogging in place
  • Popping in a strength training workout video
  • Adding yoga or Pilates workouts to build flexibility and core strength

When do you get out for your run, don’t rush it. “Start with a dynamic warm-up,” says Jennings. “Spend at least ten minutes getting your blood flowing and turning on your muscles with leg kicks, butt kicks, knee hugs, arm swings, toe walks and heel walks.” After your run, spend 10 minutes holding 30-second static stretches for your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and calves. “Tight muscles can lead to injury if you don’t stretch,” she cautions.

“Being a mom means you can’t have a set run schedule,” says Jennings. Instead, have a back up plan, and make strength, core, flexibility, warm ups and cool downs a priority. All will go a long way toward keeping you on the road and off the couch nursing an injury.

Learn more about the Duke Sports Science Institute

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