Part Two: Preventing Pain and Injury While Running
[This is part two of three in the series on running tips that Julie McCan is presenting over 3 months].
CLICK HERE to see the first tip of this series.
When you first start running, you may experience some initial discomfort and pain with things like side stitches, blisters or chaffing. All of these can be annoying and possibly discourage you from continued running. Don’t quit yet, because there are things you can do to easily prevent these things.
“A side stitch is a sharp, intense pain under the lower edge of the ribcage caused by a muscle spasm of the diaphragm. They’re common in novice runners who tend to breathe more quickly and shallow.”
I mentioned these in Part One of my series but it doesn’t hurt to discuss the treatment and prevention of this annoying and very uncomfortable pain again. The best prevention of side stitches requires just a few simple things; avoid eating within one hour of running, and make sure you are breathing through your mouth AND nose so you get a deep breathe from your stomach not just your chest (note: if you are running in cold weather, try breathing though a scarf or neck warmer).
Although there are some breathing techniques you can enlist if you get a side stitch while you are running, the easiest thing is to stop running and walk briskly while concentrating on deep breathing. You can continue running once it goes away.
“While not a serious injury, blisters — those fluid-filled bubbles of skin on your feet — can be painful and keep you from running.” Preventing blisters from occurring requires the right sock and shoe. Buy socks that are specifically made for running. This alone with help ensure your feet don’t get too much moisture built up that can cause friction and lead to a blister. As for shoes, buy them 1/2 size large than you normally wear. This made a huge difference for me. When you run, your feet actually swell so you want to make sure you have enough room to prevent any rubbing that may lead to a blister.
“Chafing is caused by repeated motion — specifically, skin rubbing against loose fabric or other skin.” Again, prevention lies in wearing the right things — in this case, synthetic clothing — something that will wick away the moisture so it doesn’t get wet. In a long run, wet clothing will stay wet and rub on your skin, causing the discomfort of chaffing. You can also put vaseline or other types of chaffing cream on trouble areas.
Once you’ve been running for a while, you may start to experience more serious pain or even injury. Through my research on this topic, I have consistently found that “most common running injuries are due to overuse, overtraining, improper shoes, or a biomechanical flaw in body structure and motion.” From a biomechanical perspective, it is always best to go back to the basics of your posture (see Part One of this series) to ensure you are running with good form and technique. If you aren’t sure, have someone watch you or video you while running. You can also go to a specialty store to have your stride analyzed.
Christopher McDougall, author of the book, “Born to Run” started the barefoot running craze based on a lot of research and running experience. Whether you want to become a barefoot runner or not, he (and others I researched) give some great advice on how you can use running barefoot to help train your foot and your body to run more efficiently. Refer to the bottom of this article for the link to some great discussion and demonstration of these techniques.
That said, to make it easier for you to get some quick guidelines on injury prevention, I have provided the following from Christine Luff’s website www.running.about.com. These things will help ensure you can continue to run injury free.
Learn more about these common running injuries, their causes, and treatments, click on the links below.
Ankle sprains are often caused by the twisting or rolling of your ankle and result in swelling and pain above and around the ankle.
Runners, especially those training for long-distance events, can suffer from black toenails, caused by the toes rubbing up against the front of the running shoe. A blood blister forms under the toenail and the nail eventually falls off.
While not a serious injury, blisters — those fluid-filled bubbles of skin on your feet — can be painful and keep you from running.
Chafing is caused by repeated motion — specifically, skin rubbing against loose fabric or other skin.
Illiotibial Band Syndrome
Marked by a sharp, burning knee or hip pain, Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is a very common injury among runners.
Muscle Pulls or Strains
Muscle pulls and strains are common and annoying injuries for runners, marked by pain and tightness in the affected muscle.
A common complaint among long-distance runners, runner’s knee feels like a soreness around and sometimes behind the kneecap.
Links to sources and information on barefoot running techniques:
Christopher McDougall’s interview:
Two good ones from Newton Running:
Written by: Julie McCan, CPT Julie is on the www.GetYouInShape.com team of personal trainers. Get You In Shape has is a Fitness Company in the Dallas, TX area. Coppell boot camps, Dallas boot camps, private training, 24 Day Challenge, weight loss, sports performance and nutrition are the main services of Get You In Shape.