WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT AN INJURY WHEN EXERCISING?
Altbuch: When a runner begins to train, knowing their limitations is key. The tendency for many athletes is to start off in training programs that are too aggressive. What happens is the first several times they go out, they train with more intensity than what their body is ready for. Start off slowly and gradually increase your mileage. The rule of thumb is a 10 percent increase per week, but that’s on the upper end of it. Some people may need to go down to a 5 percent increase. Regardless, you should not exceed that 10 percent increase per week.
Runners should also make sure they’re getting the right shoes. A shoe store can analyze a runners gait and suggest shoes that will work for them. Start off with your more typical, true shoe wear, and begin developing a training program based off of the feel of those shoes.
Stretching and resting between episodes of activity are a must for injury prevention. A day of rest a week is recommended for runners. Important areas to stretch are places that are tightened in runners — that would be the hamstrings, the calves and the Achilles tendon.
Finally, shortening your stride will help prevent injuries. Runners who have a shorter stride have fewer injuries. If you think about it, the long stride has a higher impact on your body. So, when there’s a higher impact, there’s a higher likelihood of stress fractures.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO RECOVER AFTER A RUN TO PREVENT INJURY?
Altbuch: I recommend dedicating time to stretching and allowing for muscle recovery. In order to prevent and treat injuries, an excellent technique to use is RICE – this stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Rest is taking it easy — you don’t want to go run a fivemile race and then go do some cycling if you’re just starting. Elevation is keeping your legs elevated to help control any discomfort that may occur. Compression is putting a little ACE wrap on the legs to control any swelling. Ice is great for swelling and decreasing inflammation. Whether it is an injury coming on or a hard run, these are the types of things you want to do after the run.
HOW WOULD YOU TREAT DIFFERENT INJURIES?
Pritt: Runner’s knee responds very well to aggressive courses of physical therapy. People can often continue some training so they don’t have to back completely out of training, but they back down and add physical therapy elements that’ll strengthen and be able to work themselves back up to heavy, aggressive training.
Stress fractures require a bit more rest in addition to limiting what you do, how often you do it and the frequency.
Cartledge or meniscus injuries of the knee are not uncommon injuries. If serious enough, these injuries can often lead to surgery.
Simple muscle strains should be treated with a short period of rest, ice and anti-inflammatories and return to running as tolerated.
IT (iliotibial) band syndrome is a common ailment of runners. This usually responds well to a course of rehabilitation focused on stretching the IT band.
ARE THERE ANY TYPES OF INJURIES THAT MIGHT FEEL LIKE A BASIC MUSCLE PULL BUT ARE ACTUALLY MORE SERIOUS?
Pritt: Most people sense it’s a muscle-related injury, and sometimes there are serious muscle injuries. So, (for) someone with a running injury the severity and quality of the pain would differ if it is a muscle pull versus something more serious like a stress fracture. Rarely, you may have similar symptoms to a muscle injury like calf tenderness and swelling, and low and behold, it’s a blood clot.