After spending hours at the computer, you won yourself a Broad Street Bib. The big day is right around the corner. But how can you escape injury at the 34th annual race?
As a physical therapist at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital's Riverfront Outpatient Center, the three most common running injuries I see are hamstring strains, Achilles tendonitis and posterior tibial tendonitis, more commonly known as shin splints. The culprit behind these injuries varies from insufficient flexibility to overtraining to wearing the wrong type of footwear. But the good news is that all of these injuries are preventable. Here's what you can do to avoid post-Broad Street Run pain:
- Taper your mileage. In the weeks leading up to Broad Street, taper your mileage so you don't race fatigued. In fact, you should plan to complete your longest training run two weeks before the big day.Running extra miles the week of the race will just leave you tired and more prone to injury.
- Toss your old sneaks. Between one and two weeks before the race (so, TODAY) ditch your running shoes.Why? Because after 300 to 400 miles, they lose their shock absorbing properties needed for running. After that, they're fine for a walk in the park—but a 10 mile urban run? Not so much. Replacing them with some time before the race gives you an opportunity to break them in before the big day. Also, don't be shy about seeking professional advice on your purchase—if the shoe isn't appropriate for your foot type, you may have shin splints in your immediate future.
- Beware of the herd. Broad Street is extremely crowded race day. If you find yourself in the wrong corral, you may be pushed at a pace too quick for you. Be wary of a lot of cutting-type movements while running, especially if you are not used to them. These aggressive maneuvers can make you more prone to injury.If you are in a corral that is a bit above your skill level, avoid the temptation to try to keep up—going out too fast not only strains your muscles, but can tire you out too early in the race.
- Stretch, stretch and stretch some more. Runners are notorious for tight hamstrings. Running at a faster pace often makes us increase the length of our strides. This increased torque on a hamstring that is not flexible may make our hamstrings more prone to injury. Ideally, you should stretch your muscles when they are warm. Use the stadium area at the start to spend five minutes walking or light jogging. Then pay particular attention to stretching your hamstrings and calves.
Hamstrings: Prop one leg up on a bleacher or a curb, and lean forward at the hip until you feel a gentle pull on the back of your thigh. Keep your chest out so you do not mistakenly stretch your back more than your hamstrings.
Calves. Take the typical "runners stretch" position with one leg in front, one leg behind. Press your heel into ground in the back leg while bending the knee of the front leg until you feel a pull on the back of the calf. As an alternate, stand on a curb and drop both heels off, carefully. Stretch just to the point where you feel a pull but can comfortably hold it for at least 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat three times.
If you follow these steps, you will significantly reduce your risk of injury during the Broad Street Run. Go out there and have a great time – enjoy the race, while celebrating your health and the spirit of our great city!