Newswise — It’s that time of year when weekend warriors are training for their next big race—whether that be a 5k, half marathon or full marathon. Many runners feel invincible, thinking they’ll be free from injuries or power through the pain, but in reality, the strenuous competition can take a toll on joints and muscles—no matter your age. Research shows the annual incidence of running injuries is between 35-60 percent, and about 20-70 percent of these injuries send runners to their doctors' offices.
Overuse injuries are the most common injuries in runners. The most commonly injured joints are the knees, shoulders, ankles and spine. “It’s important to listen to your body and know when to stop,” says Michael Simone, DC, a member of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Sports Council.
Consider the following tips to prevent painful joint injuries:
Before the race:
- Slowly train over a long period of time instead of doing too much in too short a time period, which leads to a higher risk of injury.
- Runners should increase their carbohydrate intake to make sure their muscle and liver glycogen storage levels are at their maximum. Glycogen is our stored form of glucose and is needed for maximum muscle contraction.
- Pay attention to your fluid intake. Drink when you’re thirsty; drinking too much can be harmful.
- Before running, warm up your muscles with a light jog.
- Consider visiting your chiropractor for an adjustment to maximize full range of motion of all affected joints. When joints are restricted, the load on them (i.e. the weight, pounding and impact) is limited to a smaller area rather than being distributed throughout the entire joint surface. This confined pressure contributes to a higher risk of injury.
During the race:
- Make the difficult decision to stop during a race if you’re experiencing pain or something just doesn’t feel right. Often, it is more of a psychological decision versus a rational one. Many runners want to finish no matter what because they spend so much time training; however, listening to the body will help prevent a more serious injury.
- Quadriceps and hamstring stretching after a run is essential.
- It’s important to eat something almost immediately after a race. Snacks such as whole-fat yogurt, bananas, peanut butter or a fruit smoothie are a few healthy choices. In addition, make sure to eat a larger meal within a few hours after completing a race.
To speak with Dr. Michael Simone who can offer additional guidance on this topic, please contact Amanda Donohue at [email protected] or 703-812-0209. To find a chiropractor near you, visit ACA's website.