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8th Apr

2013

Injury Prevention in Runners

One thing all runners have in common is aches and pains. Aches and pains can be expected but there are a few things that can be done to make sure the “aches and pains” don’t turn into to injuries that can derail your training or worse yet your ability to run the Half Marathon.

1) A 5-15 minute warm up is the first on the list for a great reason………..it could be the most important. There is a lot of research supporting the importance of a good warm up in preventing injuries. Stretching before running has been shown to have no little to no benefit in terms of preventing injuries. I always tell my patients to think of the muscles as rubber bands. If you take a rubber band out of the freezer and try to put a big stretch it out what happens? It cracks a little at first and then breaks. If you take that same rubber band out of the freezer and let “warm up” the chances of it breaking are much less.

Great Warm up routine (10 mins):

High Knees (2 mins)
Butt kicks (2 mins)
Jump Skips (2 mins)
Karaoke (2 mins)
Lunge w/ torso twist (2 mins)

2) Listen to your Body. During your training runs if you are experiencing pain outside of your normal aches and it continues throughout the run or get worse, stop. Pain is the bodies way of saying “some things wrong”. Often times battling through the pain can be done but it may leave you in far worse shape and keep you from running for a long time. Also, remember some running basics shared by a Nurse Practitioner, fitness instructor, and endurance athlete Kristi N.

Look ahead. Many new runners tend to focus on their feet. Instead, focus on the ground or road, about 10-20 feet ahead of you.
Land mid foot. In the endurance world, you should try to land on the middle of your foot and then roll through toward the front of your toes. If you land on your toes, your calves will become fatigued quickly, which may lead to shin pain or shin splints. Landing on your heels means you have over stride, which wastes energy and may lead to injury.
Keep your toes pointed in the direction you want to go. As you observe other runners, you may notice some people point their feet in or out, which could lead to injury.
Your hands should remain at waist level, along the side of your body. Running with your arms up by your chest or bringing them across your body will likely make you tired faster and you’ll start to feel tension in your shoulders and neck.
Relax your hands. Many runners get tense and end up running with a closed fist, as if they are getting ready to attack! This can lead to tightness in the neck, shoulders and arms. Try to imagine that you are running with a potato chip or an egg in your hand and you don’t want to break it.
Posture is key!!! Visualize that Olympic runner….. Posture is straight. Head is held high, back straight, shoulders level and relaxed. Arms are swinging from the shoulder joint and not from the elbow joint. Try to avoid leaning forward or back, which often happens when you get fatigued. If you feel like you are slouching or notice some low back tightness, poke your chest out to correct this.

3) Stretch after you run. The thing we all know we should do but that we all don’t do a very good job of. After you run or work out is the best time to stretch. The muscles are good and warmed up (maybe even a little fatigued). Everyone wants to stretch the big movers such as the quads, hamstrings, and calves. Make sure you don’t neglect the little guys as well. The adductors or groin, the external rotators (hip), the abductors (IT bands), the hip flexors, and the low back.

4) Cross training/Rest: Take advantage of non running days. Cross training to work your muscles in the other planes other than straight forward repetitive motions is important to help maintain muscle balance. That doesn’t mean that you have to train every day. Rest and recovery is just as important if not more important than the training you do. Make sure you take at least one day a week to recover.

5) Get care: Last but not least, if you have a nagging injury that just hasn’t gotten better with time, get it checked out. Often times it can be the difference between a serious injury that keeps you sidelined for 4 weeks and a minor pain that keeps you off the road for only a couple of days.

Now get out there and run your little heart out. Just make sure your using the tips above to keep yourself injury free.

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