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Staying injury free for 5K, 10K or 26.2 miles

Summer is the season for runs, sprints and jogs, all culminating on Sunday October 13th’s Chicago Marathon. Whether you’re planning on just walking a 5K for charity or grinding through your eighth full marathon, Dr. Park and Dr. Aribindi are here to help with tips and information to help you stay injury-free throughout training and your big day. 

A stress fracture is a small, thin crack in your bone. As a runner, you may experience these is your shins or feet. The pain will increase the longer you train. Accelerating quickly into intense, prolonged exercise is usually the culprit and rest is mandatory for complete healing. 

Shin splints, pain along the front or inside of your shin bones, are also caused by sudden increases in training, whether it’s distance each day or number of days each week. Ask us about stretching exercises, rest thoroughly and slowly return to training when the pain is completely gone. 

Suddenly increasing your running distance also causes Achilles tendiopathy, the inflammation of the large tendon that attaches your calf to the back of your heel, or plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the tendon that stretches along the bottom of your foot. You’ll feel especially stiff and tender in the morning and during walking or training. Ice packs, stretches and rest can reduce the inflammation and pain. 

Ankle sprains occur when your foot twists or rolls, stretching or tearing the ligaments around your ankle. Compression, ice packs, elevating your foot and resting will heal sprains, but it could take weeks or months to completely heal, depending upon the severity of the stretch or tear. 

Your ankles, knees, hips and back will begin to develop osteoarthritis when you’re compensating for an injury or your running form is improper. This will also wear down the cartilage in these joints, causing the ends of your bones to begin rubbing against each other. 

You can help avoid these injuries by practicing the 10% rule. For example, if your goal is to complete a 10K and you can run a 3K now, add 10% (about 1,000 feet) the second week of your training. Keep adding 10% of your total each week, doing 3-5 runs each week and alternating longer runs with shorter runs, until you reach 10K. While you may feel like you can add a lot more distance a great deal faster, strictly adhering to the 10% rule means your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments slowly build strength and adapt to longer distances without undue stress or strain.

It’s also important to rest. Running every day is not recommended, because it doesn’t give your body time to recover and adapt to longer distances and more intense training. In the last two weeks before your running event, schedule shorter runs in anticipation of that longer run. 

Some pain is okay, until it’s not. Your leg muscles may be sore for a day or two after your run, or you may find your shins aching for minute or two when you start your training run. It’s okay to push through if the pain passes quickly. However, when the pain worsens the farther you run, when pain forces you to stop running or when pain is not relieved after your rest days, it’s time to call us for an evaluation. Pushing through will worsen your injury, making more serious medical intervention likely and increasing your healing time. 

Have questions about proper training techniques, proper running form or anything else? Just click here or call 708-283-2600. We are always happy to help you avoid injury, increase your fitness level and reach your activity goals!