Tis the season for races! Now is when we start to see signs
for local 5ks, fun runs, mud races, marathons, and triathlons. In more recent
years, there has been an increasing trend in people participating in all of
these races. This year in particular the
Broad Street run, a 10 mile race in Philadelphia, sold out in hours. Along with
this trend, however, comes an increase in running injuries. As a physical
therapist, running injuries are becoming more common, and in my opinion, this
is because people are starting to run that probably should not be running.
Running is something that is innate. Running is something that most people have
done at some point in their lives.
Before Performance Spine and Sports Medicine in Newtown purchased the
Optogait System, I never really thought of running as an exclusive sport,
reserved for only those who had proper training. The Optogait System utilizes a
treadmill, video camera and a series of lasers that track your foot print
through walking, jogging and running. This system gives us information on any
dysfunctions you may present with or if you are favoring one leg more than the
other. Once we started using the Optogait System to watch the way people walk
and run, I realized the importance of proper running technique, proper footwear
and shoe construction, and overall lower extremity and core strength in order
to prevent injury. I have watched
seasoned marathon runners perform poorly on some of the tests we run in the
clinic with questions of why their (insert body part here) is hurting. With a series of tests, we are able to give
them answers to these questions. Here is my advice for those preparing for a
race this season:
Running does not replace strength training! You
should continue to strengthen your entire body in order to prepare for the
race. It is important to strengthen everything especially your core and hip
muscles in order to prevent injuries. Some of my favorite exercises for runners
include bridges, single leg squats and side planks. Ask your favorite physical
therapist , athletic trainer, or personal trainer for some more suggestions on
exercises specifically for runners
Pre and post running stretches are imperative!
The research is still out on which is better, but in my opinion, you should be
stretching before and after a run. Of course, you do not want to stretch cold
muscles, so make sure to do a short warm up like jumping jacks or a short walk
before doing your pre running stretching. It is important to maintain
flexibility to prevent injury
Diet and hydration are important. Make sure to
eat a carb heavy diet the night before the race and avoid fried foods while
training. Potassium rich foods such as bananas and leafy greens throughout
training will help in preventing muscle cramps. Water intake is highly
important during training and of course on race day. It is usually recommended that you intake 4 to 6 ounces of water for every 20-30 minutes of running. For longer runs, an electrolyte based drink is necessary to replace lost electrolytes.
Before deciding to train for a race, have your
gait analyzed. On our Optogait system, we are able to analyze your walking and
running pattern barefoot and with shoes.
We often see people who are wearing orthotics and having pain, and we
come to find out that their gait pattern is worse when wearing the orthotics. Prevention is key! Have your gait analyzed
BEFORE there is an injury.
Take my simple test for runners: Try to hop on
one foot 10 times. Can you do this pain free? If not, you should not be
running. Have a proper evaluation with a physical therapist or athletic trainer
in order to evaluate any impairment and to learn how to run properly.
Enjoy the weather safely!