Aches and pains suffered by new runners

How to avoid muscle aches and pains when running

Muscular aches and pains are part and parcel of the runners lot, especially when starting out. Even relatively fit first-time runners will go through muscle aches and pains, plus other ailments like blisters, early on. Here's's quick guide to aching muscles and blisters for runners.

Even if you're active and think you are quite fit, it's highly likely that you will experience aching muscles and blisters when you begin to run. The reasons that this happens to new runners is usually because of one of the following:

  • They haven't exercised for some time or are not used to this level of strenuous activity.
  • They have over-exercised in initial sessions.
  • They are used to a different type of exercise (e.g. a strong cyclist or swimmer does not instantly make a good runner).

Muscle soreness in the days after a run occurs due to small tears in the body's muscle fibers. The body's defense mechanism kicks in, as white blood cells come to the rescue and fluid moves to spaces it normally doesn't occupy, which causes swelling.

This swelling impacts upon the nerve endings, causing soreness and partially immobilising them. Quite frequently this swelling and soreness peaks around 48 hours after running. This is why sometimes you can feel fine the day after a run and then the real muscle soreness comes the day after that.

Blisters are caused by a frequent rubbing of the sock or shoe against the skin which causes fluid to form beneath. The more friction continues, the more fluid forms, and the bigger the blister. In some cases the blister will burst and expose the skin which can be painful.

New runners usually get blisters because their feet are not used to running and haven't had a chance to toughen up, or because they are wearing new running shoes which haven't yet been broken in.

Some tips for new runners to avoid blisters:

  • Ensure your feet are dry so they don't move around in the running shoe.
  • Wear insoles in running shoes for a smoother fit.
  • Use moisture control or sweat-wicking running socks rather than cotton or wool ones.
  • Make sure your running shoes fit properly. Seek advice from a specialist running store. Running shoes that are too tight may cramp your feet whereas shoes that are too lose will cause your feet to slide.

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