Running Tips For Preventing Injury - Part 1
I wanted to write a running blog with all the running tips I have learned over the years. I think this would be a long-winded blog if I tried to compact it into one blog. So, I have decided to write it in parts. I would like to start off my writing about some of the running injuries I have gotten over the years, which will lead into my tips to prevent injury. I don't have medical training, so this is only my experience and what I have learned over the years. If you experience any of these injuries, the best thing to do is to see your doctor.
Some common running injuries
Shin splints occur in your front lower leg (i.e., your shin). The pain will start off being mild, but will only worsen over time if it is not given time to heal properly. The pain is associated with you muscles that are attached to your bone. You have connective tissues that attach the muscles to the bone which become inflammed. It can feel like your muscle is tearing away from your bone. I had this pain (years ago) so bad that I winced going up and down the stairs. It hurt so bad that I would hold the railing in the stair case as if my life depended on it. No worries though if you have shin splints. Taking 2-3 weeks off will allow your shin splints to heal. In my case, because my shin splints were so bad, I had to take a month off. The best thing if you have shin splints is take time off in the beginning, rather then pushing through it since it will only worsen if you run through the pain. Shin splints are caused by improper running form, and your running shoes also may play a factor. I will get into the proper running form later.
ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome):
You iliotibial band runs along the outside of your legs, starting at hip and continues down your leg. The pain that comes from this (at least in my case) feels like a pinching feeling on the outside of your knee; not on your knee cap. The pain is mainly prevalent while running. There are a few causes that I can think of that may give you ITBS: 1) running shoes that are past their expiration date, and 2) changing your running ground (flat to hilly or vice versa). If you switch from flat running trails to hilly running trails, then you could be at risk for ITBS. The way that I healed, was to take off a couple weeks of running and replace it with crosstraining instead. I eventually had to go for physical thearpy for three weeks, a couple times per week. Believe me, physical therapy can be very painful. That is something I hope to not experience again; however, it made me better. Every so often still, I feel a pinching feeling on the outside of my knee, and I have to assess what I am doing wrong. I don't want it to come back in full force ever again.
The bursitus that I had trouble with occurred on the back inside of both my feet, above my heel. I imagined that something was wrong with my tendon, but the doctor assured me it was bursitus (thank goodness). Your bursa basically cushion your tendon or bone. Bursa are like little disks of fluid that prevent your tendons from rubbing against your bone. When your bursa becomes inflammed and you move your joints, it can be extremely painful. I remembering running and feeling this pain, then jumping in the air with pain because I was not expecting it. I went to the doctor immediately after feeling this pain thinking it was my tendon. The doctor told me to take off a week of running. I could only imagine if I had pushed through the pain, that I would have had to take off more time. This was early in my marathon training program last summer.
I had lost considerable weight when first training and the doctor said that my nutrition caused this. He said "protein, protein, protein"! It is dangerous to lose weight while training, and protein is important to prevent injury, among other things.
This can be common when trying to get back into shape. It could come from breathing heavier than you need, or faster than you need. It feels like you can't breath and are gasping trying to reach for air. This is why it is extremely important to count your breathing, especially in the beginning. I count as follows: "Out-2-3-In-2-3". Bascially breath out for three counts followed by breathing in for three counts. I tend to run in this rythme as well. My steps often correspond to my counts.
The keys to running properly and preventing injury are:
- Listening to your body
- Running form
- Eating right
- Running shoes & clothing
I will get into each of these with more detail in my next blog. Hasta entonces!