Recovery: Avoiding Running Injuries

RUNNING WITH A SMILE

Today is an exciting day in Jacksonville, FL.  Today is the 4th annual 26.2 With Donna Breast Cancer Marathon with thousands of runners of all ages competing in this amazing event.  From the 1 Mile Fun Run, to the 5 km race to the 1/2 marathon to the “big race”, the marathon, all the runners have two things in common:

1.  They are raising money and awareness for a very worthwhile cause: Breast Cancer

2.  They will be sore tomorrow.

Why am I sore?

You worked allot harder than you think during both your training for the race and the race itself.  The average person takes over 41,000 steps in a marathon so you’re justified in having lots of aches and pains!  There are many reasons why you’re sore but here are just a few to make you feel better for feeling so bad:

  • Increased joint compression with ever step – toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, low back,..etc.
  • Lactic Acid development  – a waste product that your body produces during intense muscle activity.
  • Soft tissue damage – tendons, muscles, ligaments and fascia are all stressed and they all suffer from micro-trauma damage as a results.
  • Bodily inflammation – from the pounding of your feet on the hard road all the way up to the tension in your shoulder muscles swinging your arms, inflammation is “in the house” and your body wants to rid itself of this toxin.

How Can I Minimize the Post-Race Soreness?

I ran my first official running race in the spring of 1979.  I’ve learned a few tricks over the years to minimize the post-race soreness to avoid additional running injuries, minimize the physical limitations in my life after the races and to allow me to return to running ASAP.  In 1996, I ran the NYC Empire State Building Run-up, the New Zealand Ironman Triathlon and the Boston Marathon within 6 1/2 weeks utilizing these exact recovery tips.

Tips to Accelerate your Running Recovery

Drink – Drink extra water and sports drinks to replace the fluids, calories and ever-important electrolytes that were used before, during and after the race.  The farther you are after the race, the more you need to emphasize the water compared to the sports drink.

Drain your Legs – Elevate your legs straight up in the air and pump your ankles immediately after the race and then 3x/day.  Use gravity to your advantage for once to help your lymphatic system drain “the bad stuff” from your poor legs.

Just Run – What?  Trust me on this one….run the next day after every race and every hard workout.  It may only be an easy 1 mile trot on the soccer field or a 10 minutes of light side-shuffles and  agility drills on the soft beach but its extremely helpful to force your legs be lightly loaded the day they are pushed aggressively.  I’ve actually proven this to myself and many athletes by having professional football players and triathletes run with only one leg on the treadmill the day after a competition to show that they will feel at least 50% better two days later when compared to their “rested” leg.

Massage and Stretch – Get your legs, feet and hips massaged and stretched as soon as possible to avoid allowing waste products from the race to become embedded in the membranes of your muscles.

Pain Relief – I don’t push the meds very often but if you have no medical complications, taking a small dose of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine before going to bed at night will help put some skip in your step when the sun comes up in the morning.

Ice and Compression Are Your Best FriendsSure ICE hurts but it’s a needed tool if you’re training and racing hard.  If your legs hurts, ice them from the outside-in for 15 minutes with a compression sleeve and then let the sore tissue warm itself up from the inside-out.

Congrats to all the runners and organizers of this wonderful event.  I hope these tips help you to recover fast and allow you to get back to doing what you love to do:  Staying Healthy & Happy!

MDR

Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

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