As you approach your longest training run to date as part of your training for your very first marathon, you might start to feel some aches and pains that you did not feel with your shorter distance runs. Listed below are three common running injuries/discomforts that you may encounter. It is important to do what you can to minimize these aches and pains before the big day arrives in just over a month.
At some point, most runners will experience low back pain. This is due to the anatomy of the lumbo-pelvic-hip structure in which several muscles including abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and lumbar muscles connect. In order to keep the back stable during running, all of these muscles and structures need to be working properly and together. To ensure this, these muscles need to be strong and flexible.
Why: This discomfort is typically due to running long distances (fatigue), postural abnormalities, weakness in core and hips, decreased lower extremity and lumbar flexibility and/or poor running mechanics.
Treatment for low back pain: lower extremity stretching, core/hip strengthening, and working on proper sitting and standing posture (including during all non-running hours).
Several marathoners will experience IT band syndrome, which is pain on the lateral aspect (outside) of the knee. In order to not get confused with a general knee injury, the best way to distinguish IT band syndrome is to bend your knee at a 45 degree angle. If you have pain on the outside of the knee at this angle, IT band syndrome is the likely culprit.
Why: The cause of IT band syndrome could be one or many things. Wearing worn out shoes, running on banked surfaces and increasing mileage too quickly can all cause this pain.
Treatment of IT band syndrome: Decrease your mileage or even take a couple days off. You may cross-train by doing any activity that does not cause pain, such as swimming. Hip strengthening, lower body stretching and foam rolling also help minimize and alleviate discomfort. Also, be sure to check out our previous blog post on the top 5 causes and solutions for IT band syndrome.
An inflammation of the plantar fascia causes plantar fasciitis. So what is the plantar fascia? It is the thick band of tissue located within the arch on the bottom of the foot, which extends from the heel to the toes. You may experience pain in the bottom of the foot or heel when running or walking, or after remaining inactive for a period of time (i.e. getting out of bed in the morning).
Why: Running can place too much stress on your heel bone and tissues that connect to it. Wearing old worn out shoes may be a factor, but this condition typically occurs in runners with tight calf muscles or those with high arches or extremely flat feet.
Treatment of plantar fasciitis: Decrease your miles until the pain subsides. In this case, this does not mean you have to completely stop running. Stretch your calf muscles 3 times with a 30 second hold each time. Also, apply ice to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. Check out our previous blog post on some free and easy solutions for alleviating plantar fasciitis.
You’re almost there! Good luck and happy training! As race day nears, make sure to stay tuned for the next installment of our Debut Marathoner blog series.
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