Pre­vent Com­mon Run­ning In­juries

The most com­mon run­ning in­juries are caused by repet­i­tive move­ments and stresses on the joints and ten­dons. Here are 11 ways to pre­vent them — and treat them if they do oc­cur

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Vera Tweed

The most com­mon run­ning in­juries are those caused by repet­i­tive move­ments and stresses on joints and ten­dons. Here are 12 ways to pre­vent them—and treat them if they do oc­cur.

Run­ning is a great way to fight stress, stay in shape and, if you’re so in­clined, flex your com­pet­i­tive spirit in races. But in­juries can be a prob­lem.

Dur­ing the course of a year, 32 per­cent of long-dis­tance run­ners and 52 per­cent of marathon run­ners ex­pe­ri­ence an in­jury, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the jour­nal Amer­i­can Fam­ily Physi­cian. Novices are twice as likely to get in­jured.

“Be­cause a run­ner is pound­ing the pave­ment for so long, it’s of­ten just me­chan­i­cal strain,” says Alan Shih, DPM, di­rec­tor of po­di­a­try at Head to Toe Health­care in Tuc­son. In fact, most in­juries stem from overuse. Here are some ways to pre­vent such in­juries.

1. In­crease mileage by no more than 10 per­cent per week. Your body grows stronger by be­ing stressed in small in­cre­ments, but starts to break down if it’s stressed too much. Go­ing above 10 per­cent can tip it into break­down mode.

2. Fo­cus on one goal. At any given time, aim to in­crease speed or dis­tance, but not both. Fo­cus­ing on only one will be more ef­fec­tive and is less likely to cause in­jury.

3. Vary the dif­fi­culty. Af­ter do­ing a hard run, make the next one easy. “The body is like a cell phone,” says Shih. “If you con­tinue to use it with­out recharg­ing, it will even­tu­ally wear down.”

4. Be­ware of ag­ing run­ning shoes. We of­ten hear that shoes can last for 300 to 500 miles, but wear and tear de­pends on an in­di­vid­ual’s body weight, hard or soft land­ings with each stride, and style of run­ning. The tread may be in de­cent shape, while the cush­ion­ing has worn out. If you feel more achy than usual, your shoes could be over the hill.

5. Get an ex­tra pair. Euro­pean re­searchers found that among ex­pe­ri­enced run­ners, ro­tat­ing dif­fer­ent pairs of run­ning shoes re­duced in­juries by 39 per­cent. Be­cause cush­ion­ing varies from one pair to an­other, the im­pact on lower legs is dif­fer­ent, and there is less repet­i­tive strain on tis­sues.

6. Cross train. Weight train­ing isn’t al­ways pop­u­lar among run­ners, “but proper strength train­ing can help you over­come mus­cle im­bal­ances that lead to in­jury, as well as strengthen con­nec­tive tis­sues that help sup­port your joints,” says Shih.

7. Don’t ig­nore pain. The clas­sic treat­ment is RICE: rest, ice, com­pres­sion, and el­e­va­tion. To re­lieve pain and in­flam­ma­tion, use an ice pack for no more than 20 min­utes, ev­ery four to six hours. Af­ter 48 to 72 hours, heat does a bet­ter job at pro­mot­ing heal­ing.

8. Don’t use drugs to push through pain. Over-the-counter pain med­i­ca­tions re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and pain, but can lead to dam­age if you take them to get through a work­out. “They do not speed heal­ing,” says Shih, “and they al­low you to over­stress al­ready dam­aged tis­sue.”

9. Re­cover with gen­tle ex­er­cise. When re­cov­er­ing from an in­jury, says Shih, “Ac­tive rest, or easy ex­er­cise, is bet­ter than in­ac­tiv­ity be­cause it stim­u­lates blood flow and pro­motes heal­ing.” Con­sider swim­ming, wa­ter ex­er­cises, or cycling.

10. Pick up the pace grad­u­ally. Once an in­jury has healed, it’s tempt­ing to jump back in where you left off, but eas­ing in grad­u­ally is more ef­fec­tive. “Dur­ing the first few weeks back is when most peo­ple get rein­jured,” says Shih.

11. Know when to get pro­fes­sional help. If an in­jury isn’t heal­ing, or you ex­pe­ri­ence the same type of in­jury again and again, get it checked by a health pro­fes­sional. It could be a stress frac­ture. Flat feet or high arches can lead to repet­i­tive in­juries. Or, mus­cle im­bal­ances in other parts of your body could be pre­dis­pos­ing you to aches and pains.

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