By Courtney Vosters
I’ve been a runner for a long time. I love the way running makes me feel, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. In fact, I love running so much that I help coordinate the April Fools 5K in the Fox Valley each year. However, as a runner, injuries are inevitable.
Thankfully, I work with a great group of sports medicine and orthopedic specialists at Orthopedic and Sports Institute of the Fox Valley, the presenting sponsor of the Relay Marathon for the Community First Fox Cities Marathon, and have picked up many great ways to prevent and treat injuries during training and during race day. Here is a list of four things you can do today to help avoid injuries:
Foam rolling and massages
When you’re training for a race, foam rolling is vital. This self-massaging technique loosens stiff muscles and helps keep fascia (connective tissue in muscles) loose. Foam rolling, along with stretching and cross training, can help prevent repetitive stress injuries that could disrupt training.
There are many benefits for runners to strength training for both injury prevention and overall performance. Runner specific strength exercises increase the ability of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to hold up to the impact of running. Heavy resistance exercises especially can give runners the extra bit needed to make them faster during the final sprint of a race.
Injury-prone runners should definitely be doing strength training. It’s important to counteract all the wear and tear distance running takes on your body with the right exercises.
Core strength plays a critical role in running. When you’re in the later miles of a marathon and feeling tired, no matter how much training you’ve done, if you don’t have strength and muscle to prevent fatigue you won’t be able to make it those final miles to the finish line. To maintain core strength do planking and sit-ups or any other exercises that engage your core.
Yoga is great for increasing flexibility, balance, stretching out tired muscles and preventing injury. It can keep your body loose and certain poses even allow you to stretch the IT Bands to help maintain correct running form and prevent injury.
I find that taking preventative measures, although not always the most fun thing to do, will pay off greatly on race day. It’s easy to push aside the prep work and just jump right into training, but prep work is critical to help you stay in the game and cross the finish line.