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Running: Aches, Injuries, and the Treatments for Them

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I used to run for competition, so I ran a lot. In fact, on top of having practice everyday, every other day we had two-a-days, so I would average anywhere from five to ten miles a day. Along with this, invariably, would come aches and injuries. There are certain things you can do to prevent injuries and other things you can do to alleviate pains.

First of all, stretch! Of course it is easy to skip or overlook this part of your workout, but it is also the easiest way to prevent aching muscles and even torn muscles that could have you sitting out for long periods of time. Stretching is especially important when it is cold. There are so many different stretches and you don’t have to do them all, but make sure you do enough to cover the basic muscles you are going to be using. It is a good idea to stretch before your workout- preferably after a warm-up- and then once again after your workout. Stretching frequently also allows your body to become more flexible.

Another common injury among serious runners (you typically have to be running countless miles to incur this injury) is shin splints. If you have had these before, they are not fun. The muscles on the front of your lower legs feel tight and stretched and shoot pain when you try to run on them. You can even feel it when you walk. My understanding of shin splints, having gotten them on multiple occasions, is that they are caused by the imbalance of your calf muscles becoming stronger than your shin muscles. There is a very easy, simple remedy to overcome this injury or even to prevent it. It is called shin lifts (I am sure there are different name variations). You place your foot on an incline with your toe pointing down. Place some type of weight (An ankle weight typically works best) on your toes and lift your toes up as far as you can to where your foot is level but the very end of your heel is all that is touching the incline. Do one foot at a time and do as many of these as you can- you will start to feel it around 40-60. Rest a minute or two and then do it again. Do this either once a day or every couple of days if you are running heavy or feel you are starting to get shin splints. It actually doesn’t take that long to start feeling better again.

Even after my competing years (still running) I could feel myself starting to get shin splints again, so I went to the weight room of the Rec Center where I was a member. I spent a few minutes searching for said wooden plane with a weight, which I was used to, but to no avail. I asked one of the workers and he said they didn’t have one because normally people don’t run enough to get shin splints. However, he was helpful and showed me another way to work these muscles. There is a weight machine called a horse where you lift the weight as it rests on your shoulders. You can position your feet on the bar that goes along the floor so that your heels are what rest on it and you lift your toes up and down. There is yet another way to work these muscles, one in which you can do at home. Stand on something, say the edge of your bathtub, with your heels and lift up your toes. You don’t have to use a weight since you are standing and using your body weight. As a precaution, I would suggest holding on to something to keep your balance and to prevent bodily harm from falling.

Having sore muscles is another ache that can happen for multiple reasons. Icing them is a common therapy, which is good for injured muscles as well. Place a bag full of ice where your muscles are sore. It works best to have a bag full of tiny pieces of ice. Of course, it will sting for a couple of minutes being cold, but keep it on there for about fifteen or twenty minutes, take it off for fifteen or twenty, and then put if back on for fifteen or twenty minutes and repeat a couple of times. You don’t want to leave the ice on for too long at one time and get a freezer burn.

I remember near the end of one racing season being sore all over, particularly my legs. A friend suggested taking an ice bath. She explained that you fill the bathtub up with cold water and put ice in it to get it really cold and then to sit in it. She said this was an excellent way to regenerate your body. Although I meant to, I never actually tried it, but it does sound like a good idea! It is just like those whirl tubs with all the ice that you see athletes sit in.

Running can be a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. It makes me feel better, allows me to reduce daily stress, and gives me down-time to myself. Injuries and being sore can happen (as with anything else), but don’t let it be the reason why you don’t get out there.

Julie Graham is a Marketing Rep. for Robbins Sports, an online provider of Track Uniforms, Running Apparel, and Jogging Suits