I recently volunteered at marathon here in Florida, where I was a part of the medical team in the orthopedic tent. We were located at the finish line and available for runners that displayed signs of needing assistance or whom voluntary sought help. Keeping with my prevention approach, I wanted to mention just a few things that could have been prevented with just a few simple tips.
A majority of runners I saw presented with signs of dehydration and muscle cramps, blisters, and possible stress fractures. There were however a couple runners we saw that fell during the race and displayed signs of arm fractures, but that’s a different story. Runners that were far worse, with signs of hypothermia or other conditions, were cared for elsewhere in the medical tent.
Simple Tips to Prevent
· Adequate Hydration
Before, during, and after a long run make sure to drink water and something that has electrolytes, like Gatorade or Powerade. It is important to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat to avoid muscle cramping. Rule of thumb is to drink 16oz for every pound of body weight lost, which relies on you weighing yourself before and after. However, to steer clear of all the math, just drink a couple glasses and have a banana.
· Recognize Overuse
Your body has just ran over 26 miles and soreness is bound to happen. Don’t be surprised if you feel like you have been hit by a bus, your muscles and tendons have most likely fatigued and been overworked. Utilize available ice to decrease soreness and possible inflammation, but keep your application time to 10-20 minutes.
· Do Not Stop Moving & Know How to Self-Stretch
After such a long race your body has been built up with lactate acid. Continue to walk around after, while pretending to do some bicep curls, to help circulation and prevent some muscle soreness. Stretching is another way to help increase circulation. I have a few favorite lower extremity stretches, but I’m saving that for a future post.
· Inspect Your Shoes
Looking at the bottom of your shoe reveals a lot, especially for a physical therapist. Repetitive wear on one particular side can indicate a biomechanic issue or an improperly fit shoe. Shoes that don’t fit well can lead to stress fractures if you have constantly been putting pressure on one spot. They can also create an environment for forming a blister. If your shoes don’t protect against blisters, look into padding sensitive areas and ensuring you have good socks.
· Do Not Run in New Shoes
If you find the need to purchase new shoes, do it far beforehand. This allows time for you to slowly break them in during training. Most of us wouldn’t buy a new car and drive it across country without getting to know all the features or how it handles. Don’t put your feet and lower extremities through that pain.
Based on what I saw, many runners need to be educated. They should know what to expect and how their bodies will react, only then can they decide if they are truly injured. Remember to always utilize available medical staff and volunteers to rule out serious injury.
- Patrick Berner, SPT