The 5 Biggest Mistakes Inexperienced Runners Make Leading to Injury

1)     Training for a ½ or full marathon when you’ve never run a 5K or 10K- because of variability of muscle types, bone density, running mechanics and the efficiency of oxygen consumption, not everybody was made to run long-distance races. Some great athletes are hardly capable of running 5 miles. Then, you have those individuals who can run a ½ marathon and barely train to do it. If a novice runner, see what your body is capable of first by training for and completing shorter races before attempting much longer runs.

2)     Pushing through pain to get through a run- there’s fatigue, soreness, the muscle burn and then, there’s pain. Concerning pain includes sharp discomfort, pain that results in limping, constant pain and pain associated with swelling. Pain around a tendon or right over a bone is a warning sign. Don’t ignore the “check engine light” that comes on in your body. Learn to recognize the difference between the types of discomfort and seek medical attention when the concerning form of pain is present.

3)     The wrong footwear- this can be shoes that are too old or the wrong type for your foot and particular gait pattern. It’s time for new shoes when there’s visible wear of the tread, especially in the forefoot area (the third of the foot closest to the toes). Shoes should be updated every 300-500 miles or every 9-12 months, whichever comes first. Also, seek a true “fitting” for your shoes. The right size, width and style (stability, neutral, zero drop, etc.) are important choices, and you should avoid choosing the latest “fad” shoe or the one that has the coolest design simply for the fashion statement. Find a quality running store that can help you with these choices.

4)     Training with a partner of a different skill set- it’s generally best to train with someone of a similar skill set and set of goals. Many runners are competitive (whether they admit it or not!), and will push each other at times even on training runs. While this is not all bad, someone training for their first ½ marathon will likely struggle to keep up with someone that has run numerous long-distance races. What’s the net result? The inexperienced runner tries to keep up with the experienced runner in terms of speed, distance and mindset. This is a recipe for injury. If wanting to train with a partner, try to find one that is willing to follow a similar schedule and runs a similar pace.

5)     Making up for lost time- sometimes a training schedule gets derailed. An illness, an injury or a life event knocks a runner off his/her training schedule for a couple of weeks. Race day is nearing, and thus, the runner tries to advance the training schedule by increasing the number of running days each week or jumping ahead and doing more miles or longer runs than what he/she should be doing. Example: it’s late in the training schedule for a ½ marathon, and the longest run you’ve done is 7 miles. You missed 2 weeks of training because of a sinus infection. You jump ahead on the schedule and do 10 miles on a Saturday. Now, your shin is throbbing. Shin splint or stress fracture? Either way, you’re done! No race for you. No running for weeks to months. What should you have done instead? Resumed your training schedule where you left off before the illness. Then, if not ready for this race, postpone and run another one. There are ½ marathons within a region almost every weekend, especially from the late winter until the late spring. Or, you could have still run the race, but adjusted your goals. Maybe you change your mindset to just finishing the race, even it meant walking part of race. The bottom line: skipping steps in your training often results in an increased risk of injury.

At Impact Sports Medicine, we would rather help you prevent an injury, but when one does occur, we are ready to help! Enjoy your running!

The Top 3 Activities that Lead to Summer Injuries in Adults

What are the top 3 activities that lead to summer injuries for adults?

1) Yard work- often a situation of doing too much at one time. Repetitive bending, lifting, pushing and trimming frequently lead to low back, neck, shoulder and elbow issues. Our advice- spread the work load among several family members and among several days. Instead of 4 hours of work on one day, divide the work load into 2-3 days. Get as close as you can to something you are lifting or trimming. Doing these with your arms further away from your body can overload the spine, joints and tendons. 

2) Tennis and golf- these are great warm-weather sports, but lead to a elbow tendon and low back problems quite frequently. The same concept discussed above applies: avoid overuse situations. Play 9 holes instead of 18 on some days. If you are a middle-ager, don't expect to play 72 holes on a weekend and not feel some aches and pain. With tennis, consider playing with a 2-handed backhand. Play some doubles, not just singles, as this can decrease your reps, but lead to similar enjoyment of the game. 

3) Running and power walking- many love just being outdoors for these fitness activities, while others are starting to train for 1/2 and full marathons in the fall. A couple of pieces of advice: if training for a race, follow a program/regimen. 12 weeks to train for a 1/2 marathon, 18 weeks for a full. To all: update your athletic shoes every 9-12 months or if any wear is present on the tread. Also, make sure your other shoes are supportive. Flimsy sandals and flip-flops lead to foot, ankle and knee problems, especially if these areas are already being stressed by other fitness activities. When it comes to summer shoes, to some degree, you get what you pay for. A quality pair of sandals or flip-flops will run you $50-$100. 

Enjoy the summer!