Running, Beginners and Injury Prevention

2013 rolled in with sparkle and shine, champagne and fireworks!  Many folks make New Year’s Resolutions with the intention of improving their lives, fattening their wallets or losing weight.  If you’re one who started exercising or running, how are you doing? One mistake people make is doing too much too soon. Over-doing it can cause pain and injuries to your whole body.  One common misconception is “no pain, no gain.” While muscle soreness is common with running and exercise, excruciating pain is a sign that something is wrong.

People who start running regularly after not exercising at all need to prepare their bodies for movement. It’s great to want to get out there and sprint a mile your first 3 days! But you increase your chances of injury and the pain you feel will probably discourage you from continuing to run. If you have never been a runner before do some research for beginners. If you know a fitness expert or personal trainer who specializes in running, make an appointment or send them an e-mail asking the best way to start. Talk with your physician or health care provider to make sure running is the right exercise for you. Wouldn’t it be awesome to set goals with your doctor?!

If you don’t know a trainer there are also many online programs to help you get started. There are a few versions of Couch to 5K available, just Google “Couch to 5K.” These programs or applications map out a training regimen to get you started, gain momentum, and then complete a certain amount of miles. These apps are an awesome way to “check off” your progress.  Most importantly, they help you to get started! The first step is the hardest.

Injury prevention should be a priority while running. Of course, speed or distance is what you focus on, but preventing serious injury is important.  If you are following a training schedule for a race, then follow it. Rest periods are just as important as run days. Short days are short for a reason. Long days are tough but rewarding.  Eat, drink and sleep the proper amounts to make sure your body has the fuel it needs to keep moving.  Rest days are good for other things like yoga, an exercise class, massage, weight training, or absolutely nothing.

Good running shoes are a must! Try on several, research them in magazines and on the internet. The right shoes can help prevent leg pain, lower back pain, and even foot pain.

It’s only the first month of 2013 and you’re doing great! Pay attention to your body, follow your training schedule and keep going into February. You can do it!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

Running and Foot Pain

Sesamoiditis. What? Never heard of it? I bet you’ve felt it, though. It commonly presents as pain in the forefoot, usually beneath the big toe. The Mayo Clinic defines it as an inflammation of the small accessory bones (sesamoids) located on the underside of the foot near the big toe.

Have you recently started increasing your running miles? Sesamoiditis sometimes creeps up on people who are increasing miles while training for a marathon. The pain starts as a mild ache in the ball of the foot and becomes more painful over time.

Image from Mayoclinic.com

Take a look at your running shoes. When did you start using them? Are they showing wear and tear? Do you add extra support with insoles? Runner’s World magazine suggests replacing your running shoes every 300-500 miles. Worn out shoes and incorrect shoes both contribute to injury in runners. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the shoe store.

The common treatments for this type of foot pain are

  • Rest! Ease up on the training a bit. Do some other types of exercise and let the foot bones recover.
  • Ice. I know that soaking your feet in a hot bath feels good, but in a situation involving inflammation you will want to put ice on the painful area.
  • Your physician may recommend some type of over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • The doctor might also suggest a corticosteroid injection to help with swelling.
  • Extremely painful cases may require walking boots or crutches.

Wouldn’t a little bit of rest be better than a week or so on crutches? Listen to your body. I read somewhere this week that pain is not your enemy. Pain is a signal.*  Sometimes we know exactly why something hurts and how to make it better. Other times we can’t figure out why something hurts and we don’t know what to do.

If you are training for a distance you’ve never ran before, be mindful of your aches and pains. Soreness may be common and even expected, but excruciating pain isn’t necessary to achieve your goals. Find a trusted source and get a training schedule complete with short days and rest days. And follow it!

Do you experience any foot pain? What remedies would you add to this list?

*Update: I remembered where I read this! Kat Mayerovitch wrote a great piece for other massage therapists. She is who said that pain is not your enemy.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

Knee Pain and Runners

Runners eventually suffer some type of knee pain. Pounding the pavement on a daily basis is a great form of exercise. All that pounding puts stress on the joints and ligaments. “Runner’s Knee” is a generic term describing knee pain that could be from many different causes.

The muscles surrounding the knee can cause knee pain from overuse. “Overuse? But I’m training! I need to run everyday!”All muscles and joints want and need to move and be used, there’s no question about that. Just pay attention to your body’s cues to rest or cut back. 🙂

When someone calls me with knee pain from running I massage the WHOLE leg. All of it. The back of the leg (hamstrings) shorten with every step taken. Imagine you are running. Your foot lands and these muscles lengthen a bit and then tighten just enough so you don’t fall. They then immediately shorten again, pulling the foot off the ground and propelling you forward. Step, shorten, step, shorten, step, shorten, etc.

These hamstring muscles are often tight and short on a runner’s leg. The ligaments and tendons are often overstretched and pulling around the back of the knee.  And now you have knee pain. Stretch. Assess how MUCH you are running. Are you running too much for your skill level? Should you change shoes? Change your speed or route?

The front of the leg is also an important factor in running and your knees.
Those muscles lengthen and shorten with every step you take, too.
The front of the thigh extends the knee and stabilizes our steps.
If these muscles are weak you could have knee pain if you run.
Stretch and strengthen these muscles.

Other causes of knee pain in runners are flat feet/fallen arches, a direct injury like a fall and other problems with the feet.

If you are training for a race or just starting on your running adventure it is a good idea
to take care of yourself. The exercise is just ONE way. You must stretch and assess
how your body feels each day. Where are your aches and pains? Are you in actual pain or are you just sore from the workout?

Massage is a great asset to your training regimen. Massage can help the body
heal the little muscle tears from exercise. Massage can help lengthen the tight, short muscles. Muscle tension is common and massage can help relieve the aches and pains
around the joints.
www.thecomfortzonemassage.com