The Ups and Downs of Running: How to Properly Run Hills and Stairs

The Ups and Downs of Running: How to Properly Run Hills and Stairs

Hills are one of the most common obstacles in any type of sport or activity. They are often encountered during races, training sessions, hikes, cycling, walking and even jogging. A runner may encounter them while running uphill or downhill. These hills have different characteristics and are categorized into three types:

1) Flat HILLS – these are flat areas with no steepness.

The terrain is smooth, but not perfectly level. There is usually some elevation change from the top to bottom of the hill.

2) Ramparts – these are vertical sections of rock, sandstone or other hard material that rise up out of the ground and form a gradual ascent.

3) Overhangs – these are horizontal sections of rock, sandstone or other hard material that extend above the surrounding area.

Running Up HILLS

A runner must be careful when running up hills because they can cause injury if done incorrectly. If you do not pay attention to your body’s natural reaction to exertion, you will experience pain and fatigue. When running up a hill, it is best to keep your legs moving at all times. If you stop moving your legs, the calves will become tight and this can lead to cramps. You will also have to deal with the pain of starting up again which can cause you to fall and injure yourself.

You must also maintain a steady breathing pattern while running up hill. If you do not keep a steady pace with your breathing, your lungs will fill with air and this can cause the airways to close off. This may cause you to suffocate or pass out. If you are running up a steep hill, it is best to take two or three quick breaths rather than taking in a large gulp of air which may cause you to choke.

When you begin to run up a hill, your muscles will start to burn due to lactic acid build up. Drinking plenty of fluids before and after your run will minimize this problem. You should also perform some type of muscle stretching routine before and after running up hills. This will increase the flow of blood and nutrients in the working muscles.

The Ups and Downs of Running: How to Properly Run Hills and Stairs - gym fit workout

Running up hills can also be beneficial because it strengthens the leg muscles and makes you fitter. You should focus on running uphill rather than walking. The best way to accomplish this is to change your running style slightly so that it still incorporates some running motion, rather than walking. This will enable you to reach the top of the hill without completely exhausting yourself.

Running Down HILLS

The best way to run downhill is to keep your body straight and lean slightly back so that you do not fall on your backside. Keep your head up at all times and look where you would like to go. When running downhill you will reach high speeds, so it is also important to concentrate on the terrain. You do not want to be running too fast and fall because you were not paying attention to your surroundings.

It is best to run down a hill rather than walk. The reason for this is to keep your heart rate elevated and your muscles working. If you are walking down a steep hill, your muscles will have to work harder to take the weight of your body. Another reason for not walking downhill is that it causes the muscles in the legs and ankles to strengthen.

You should avoid running down extremely steep hills. These can be very dangerous and cause injury. Even the strongest individuals have been known to fall and injure themselves on a descent like this. If you really want to run downhill, it is best to find a slope that has a gentler grade.

You can decrease your chances of falling by running at a slower pace and not taking as many risks. Keep your feet close to the ground to avoid slipping and sliding. Watch for small pebbles and twigs that can cause you to twist your ankle. It is best to concentrate on one step at a time when running downhill.

Treating Injuries

Injuries are a common occurrence in any sport. If you are running or walking on a regular basis this will inevitably result in some form of injury. The best way to treat most running injuries is to rest and apply the R.I.C.E method.

This stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.

To apply the RICE method effectively:

1. Rest from the activity that caused the injury.

2. Apply ice or a cold pack to the injured area.

The Ups and Downs of Running: How to Properly Run Hills and Stairs - Image

3. Use a compression bandage on the injured area to decrease swelling.

4. Elevate the injured part of the body to reduce swelling.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also help with pain and swelling. It is important to rest for a few days and then attempt to run again.

After you have iced, elevated and compressed the injured part of your body, you will probably feel better. Unfortunately, this does not mean you are healed. You still need to take it easy before running again to prevent further injury. If you feel pain while walking or running then stop immediately. This means that you have re-injured yourself and need to rest longer.

Sources & references used in this article:

System architecture directions for networked sensors by J Hill, R Szewczyk, A Woo, S Hollar, D Culler… – ACM Sigplan …, 2000 –

Ten iterative steps in development and evaluation of environmental models by AJ Jakeman, RA Letcher, JP Norton – Environmental Modelling & Software, 2006 – Elsevier

After nature: Steps to an antiessentialist political ecology by A Escobar – Current anthropology, 1999 –

The OPAL silicon microvertex detector by …, GG Hanson, JD Hobbs, J Hill, JC Hill… – Nuclear Instruments and …, 1993 – Elsevier

Perceiving affordances: Visual guidance of stair climbing. by WH Warren – … of experimental psychology: Human perception and …, 1984 –

Design requirements for technologies that encourage physical activity by S Consolvo, K Everitt, I Smith, JA Landay – Proceedings of the SIGCHI …, 2006 –