Fall Marathon season is upon us. The tri-state area is being overrun by running shoes, running shorts, running socks, running shirts, oh yeah! Runners! Runners! Runners! Every year our JAG Physical Therapy facilities are stampeded with injured runners. All of these athletes are preparing for the NYC Marathon, Jersey Shore Marathon, Boston Marathon, NYC half marathon…you get the picture. Everyone has bought their new shoes, several training books and now you start logging in the miles. WAIT!!!!!! Slow down. Are you a runner? Have you ever trained for something like this before? Are you fit? These are great questions you should ask yourself before running your first 10 miles. To run a marathon is a great goal, but let’s do it without getting hurt.
Here are some easy tips to keep you running and injury free. First, you should make sure your gear is properly fit. If your shoes are too tight or too loose you can get many different foot injuries such as blisters, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, sesmoiditis and subungual hematomas of your toes. Also, make sure these running shoes do not make you over supinate or pronate as this can lead to shin splints. So make sure you get a good shoe fit by a professional.
Training should be done with a good progression of mileage. You should not do too much, too quick or you will open yourself up to muscle fatigue, muscle cramps and eventually muscles strains. Although you bought the great book of running, you should make sure it has classifications for the beginner, intermediate and advanced runner. Too many times I have seen runners spend more time on our treatment tables then on the road due to doing too much, too quickly. You should have a good progression based on your level of running… remember you want to be at the big day to accomplish your goal. You do not want to be home watching the marathon on television.
Some other quick tips include maintaining your flexibility with some general stretches for your entire body. Most people will stretch their legs but forget the rest of the body, this is why we see so many low back injuries in the early stages of training. Strength should be included as with any sport activity. You want to be able to maintain proper running form and biomechanics. If the muscles become fatigued quickly due to weakness you can end up getting a torn hamstring or quadriceps.
Lets’ not forget good nutrition and hydration. Caffeine as we all know is dehydrating. Throughout your work day you will drink at least 3 cups of coffee but forget the water or sports drink and now you go home and run 5 miles. Well, if the muscle is not hydrated again it will fatigue and tear, so learn to hydrate. Most athletes hydrate with 6-8 8oz. glasses of water or sports drink throughout the day. While training or competing they will replenish with 8oz.of water every 20-25 minutes.
We all want to see you at the finish line. Be smart, follow these simple guidelines and have a great run.
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Dr. John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, DPT