InjuriesAugust 11, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Posted in General Running Information | Leave a comment
One major factor in having a long and strong running career is the ability to stay free of injuries.
Unfortunately, injuries are quite common and can prevent one from running at all or racing their best. If not taken care of properly, they can lead to future, nagging problems. Over the next couple of weeks we will be discussing some of the major causes of injuries, what one can do to prevent them, and how to best take care of them.
One of the main causes of injuries is building mileage too fast and/or increasing the intensity of training too much. A beginning runner often will be overzealous and start running too much too soon. An established runner, when starting to train for a big race, will sometimes add hills and speed training at the same time, which often puts too much stress on the body.
The general rule of thumb in building mileage is not to increase your mileage more than 10% every week. Also, add either speed or hills at first, not both, and when you have a good base of one, add the other.
Listen to your body
One important aspect of training is to listen to your body and if you are feeling overly tired or sore, perhaps it is time to take a break from your training, either by taking a day off or by taking an easy day. How do you know what your body is telling you? Experience is by far the best teacher. Runners with a lot of miles behind them know what their bodies need and when. Newcomers can use the following guidelines to decipher what their bodies are saying.
-Expect general discomfort at first. It takes a whole body to run so chances are you will feel soreness not only in your legs but also in your arms, neck, and shoulders. It is important to not take pain relievers before your next run. This can mask pain, which is the best indication of how your body is doing.
-Sharp, specific pain is a sign that something is wrong. A sudden localized pain, whether the pain comes on during or after your run, could be a sign of an acute injury or the beginning of an overuse syndrome. A good first step if this occurs is to take a day or two off of running and often that is all it will need to go away. If the pain returns when resuming running, it is time to figure out the underlying cause of the problem.
One cause may be your shoes and/or gait. A visit to a local running store can result in the examination of both and it may be that your shoes are causing your feet to land in an uncomfortable position.
If the pain is more serious, a trip to a sports medicine physician is in order. They will be able to let you know if you need orthotics, physical therapy, or a visit to another doctor.
-Pain that goes away while you’re running is not okay. If you have an ache or a pain that disappears during your run, don’t be fooled into thinking it is okay. It feels better because the increased motion and bloodflow decrease the tightness so pain signals are not given off. Once you stop running, however, the increased trauma results in more deterioration. These injuries are typically muscle strains and tendon inflammations and require a reduction in running to heal.
-Expect discomfort on the comeback trail. When you start running after recovering from injury it is normal to have some soreness and minor discomfort. The important thing is that the discomfort is not acute and diminishes with each day. If the pain gets worse it is necessary to cut back your running again and build back up more slowly.
-Little things matter. Don’t ignore small problems when they occur. Some runners will ignore a small blister or a little uncomfortable rubbing of their shoes. Problem is that continuing to run will only intensify the problem, which leads to compensation throughout the body and may bring on an injury in a completely different area. Take care of small problems as they occur, whether it is padding a blister, wearing different shoes, or lacing your shoes differently.
-Avoid running during the heat of the day. It takes more effort to run if you are out of shape. High temperature and humidity will wear down a body because it can no longer cool itself effectively. Because of this, new runners are more susceptible to heat illness. When it is hot out, run in the cooler part of the morning or evening. Also stay well-hydrated.