Everyone is out enjoying the warmer weather and races are happening again. Whether it is a walking or running program, injuries can occur as mileage increases. Acute injuries are those that happen during an instance, like a sprain, muscle pull or heat related. Common overuse injuries in running or walking include pain in the knee, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, shin splints, blisters, IT band Syndrome or Achilles tendonitis.
To help avoid or alleviate these injuries keep these tips in mind.
- Listen to your body. If it needs more rest, give it more rest. If you feel weak after a run, try eating something. The more aware you can be about how your body is feeling the better chance you have to catch what’s happening before an injury occurs.
- Warm up thoroughly. A warmup for walking or running should start with a slower version of the activity, and include some mobility stretches. It’s ok to be a little sweaty before you even start your activity, that way you know your muscles are warmed up.
- After your mileage is done, stretch the quads, hamstrings, calves, piriformis, IT band and low back. Try out recovery modalities like the foam roller and ice baths.
- Strength train and cross train. Having a full body strength training program will help keep the supporting muscles around the joints strong. Quadriceps and hamstring exercises will help keep the knee supported and adductor and abductor exercises will keep the hips strong. Incorporating an alternative cardiovascular exercise like swimming, rowing or biking will help cross train to help alleviate overuse injuries.
- Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the weather. Chaffing can occur with loose fitting clothing that rubs. An early morning run can start off cool but quickly warm up. Dress in layers that you can easily take off and carry along your route.
- Make sure you have life left in your shoes. Shoes have a mileage limit before the padding begins to break down and loses support. Plan out when you will switch shoes to avoid getting a blister right before race day.
- If injuries persist seek out help from a medical professional. Athletic trainers, Physical Therapists and Personal Trainers are a great place to start for trouble shooting problems but always consult your physician if the pain persists.
Follow these tips and you’ll be performing your best on race day!
About the Author: Kirsten Rice is the Health and Fitness Director at the Fox West YMCA with her degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University with an emphasis in Health Promotion Specialization and a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College or Sports Medicine. She has been practicing in the field for 14 years and enjoys helping people find the right avenue to achieve their health and wellness goals. She can be reached at [email protected] or 920.560.3413.