Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | January 3, 2018

Injury Prevention in the New Year

by Jocelyn Wittstein, MD, and Melissa Raddatz, NP, of Duke Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

As runners we look to the New Year running goals with stars in our eyes. Prepping to plan and work toward the next achievement whether it’s finishing or a new PR. Interestingly, in our practice, we see far more frequent injuries in runners than in triathletes or cyclists. You could even say there is a tendency to travel from injury to injury. If you ask the most successful runners what their secret is, it’s remaining injury free.

Start low and go slow. Follow the “10% rule” of time or mileage increase per week and stick to it!

Warm up. For any sport — particularly running — it’s best to warm up for 10-15 minutes before pushing the pace. This allows the muscle fibers to loosen and expand for a smoother, faster stride.

Cross train. In early stages of your marathon training don’t be afraid to incorporate other endurance activities such a swimming, cycling or rowing as your body’s fitness improves. This will prevent you from increasing your running mileage too quickly and help develop other muscle groups.

Use your strength. Weight sessions of 30-45 minutes 2-3 times per week focused on core, major muscle groups in the legs and arms can will improve your running and prevent overuse injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis.

Be sweet to your feet. Find a pair of shoes that works for your stride, mileage and goal. Most running stores now have on site gait analysis and can recommend the right shoe for you. Remember that you should switch to a new pair after 250-300 miles are on the sneakers for best shock absorption and support.

Relax. Stress can increase your risk of injury as your cortisol levels rise. While exercise can counteract this, it’s important to meditate, deep breathe or try yoga to promote overall wellness.

Sleep. Resiliency is the key great training. Studies have shown the best recovery occurs when you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Accountability. Keep track of your work outs and mileage so you know when to cross train, slow down or take a day off. It will also help you look back to understand your progress to your goal.

Enjoy the journey! The best part of a new year are new beginnings and the distance you will travel to reach a new achievement!

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