I admire people who run marathons. It takes a certain kind of mental stamina, will, and utter determination to finish the race. It's no surprise then that the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday will draw nearly 30,000 runners in the DC Metro area. However, with any repetitive type activity like running, you're bound to suffer from some ailments that can become long term chronic problems. Here are my top 3 injuries that you should address now; a wait and see approach is not a good idea! Injury #1 - Back pain Let me say this at the outset; back pain is not normal. If you're living with it, grinning and bearing it, or sucking it up, please stop. Your back is part of your core and your core is your powerhouse to activity. If your back is jacked up, your ability to stabilize your body, move quickly (think of chasing your kid out into the street), and perform daily chores (sweeping the floor can hurt!) is affected. Sleeping becomes impossible and then sleep deprivation and the side effects such as irritability, weight gain, and memory challenges kick in. Have I painted the picture for you? There are many factors that can cause back pain so make sure you get a thorough exam. I highly recommend seeing a sports physical therapists and trainer (yours truly) to perform a posture and gait analysis. It's also a great idea to have a solid core training program in your arsenal to manage your back health and prevent any future problems.
Injury #2 Plantar Fasciitis This is a very common injury that may fly under the radar for years. A tell-tale sign that you have Plantar Fasciitis is a feeling of something pulling at your heel. This pull worsens over time and is felt strongly in the morning, after exercise, or a long day on your feet. Once the underlying fascia gets irritated you have to manage it right away. The best way to deal with Plantar Fasciitis is to stretch your calf muscles daily; foam rolling is another great way to stretch that area. Next, make sure you have proper foot wear. You may have to change your shoes every 6-12 months if not more. Be sure to have a pair of running and fitness shoes. Orthotics can be prescribed by your doctor but I have concerns about the long term use of orthotics (another post). Try this exercise for your feet; place your bare feet onto a towel on a smooth surface like a hardwood floor or tile. Lift (flex) your toes up and as you bring them down grab the towel and inch it towards you with your toes. Trust me, this will feel a bit strange but after a few days, it will feel better. Perform two sets of 15 reps daily for ten days. Your feet will feel better soon!
Injury #3 Ankle Sprain Sprains are common but the damage to the ligaments around the ankle are effected long term. Once ligaments get overstretched, they never return to their normal state that's why it's so important to properly care for sprains with rest, elevation and ibuprofen if necessary. It's a good idea to see a doctor and rule out any additional damage to the area. Once you've had a sprain, your at risk for spraining the same area again increases. Strengthen your ankle area by balancing on one leg and performing unstable exercises such as a squat on a BOSU dome.
Never underestimate any injury. Past injuries creep up in mid-life and can put you on the sidelines for a long time. The old saying of No Pain, No Gain is just that - an old saying. Never allow pain to become normal for you. Take the time to get yourself healthy again by taking care of old injuries and preventing new ones.