How to Avoid Injury When Training for a Race

Whether you are a first-time race participant or you're a seasoned veteran; a runner or walker; tackling a 5K or the full marathon distance; it’s important to take care of your body during the last few weeks of training and on race day. 

Overuse Injuries
It’s unfortunately all too common that overuse injuries occur in runners and walkers as their training gears up or they attempt to play catch up with their miles during the home stretch. Here are four common overuse injuries seen in walkers, runners, and athletes of all ages:

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome “Runner’s Knee”
Runner’s knee is a common injury that involves pain around or underneath the knee cap. Pain is often felt when running, going up or down stairs, walking, squatting, kneeling, or rising from a seated position. Pain is typically worse at the beginning of the run, improves during the middle of the run, and aches after finishing.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome “Shin Splints”
Shin splints often occur in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their training routines. The increased activity overworks the muscles, tendons and bone tissue of the lower leg surrounding the tibia, or shin bone. You may experience pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial Band (or IT band) Syndrome usually presents with pain on the outside of the knee. The IT band is a long, dense tissue that extends from the outside of the hip to the knee. During running, the IT band moves between the front and back of the knee during knee flexion and extension. This can lead to friction and pain as the band rubs over the outside of the knee.

Achilles Tendinopathy
The Achilles tendon is the large band of tissue at the back of the ankle which connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel and provides the push off force for walking and running. The tendon may be painful and stiff first thing in the morning and at the start of exercise. Pain may gradually decrease with exercises, but often returns later in the day or towards the end of a prolonged training session. 

Treatment Options
The best treatment for these overuse injuries is prevention. Maintaining a flexibility program, gradually increasing mileage, wearing proper shoes, cross-training, adequate hydration and nutrition, and having good core and hip strength will help decrease your risk of injury. However, injuries can still occur even with the best training.

If you think you suffer from one of these, or other overuse injuries, get help before the big race day! Columbus Regional Health physical therapists can work with your physician(s) to help decrease your symptoms, improve your running, and help make your race day a success. Treatments may include stretches, strengthening exercises, computerized running analysis, Astym and soft tissue mobilizations, shoe wear recommendations, and training advice. 
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