By Dr. Stephanie Lord
Running along the Waterfront has become a favourite pastime of many Harbourfront residents and running enthusiasts. It is certainly a great way to enjoy the scenery and keep one’s body in shape at the same time.
Whether training for an event or conditioning one’s body it is important to take a few precautionary steps to prevent injury or exhaustion.
Temperature has been shown to have a profound influence on the viscoelastic (stretching) properties of connective tissue, therefore a warm-up period of a 10-15 minute session of low-to moderate intensity stationary cycling or walking is recommended followed by a stretching routine of three to six repetitions of 15-20 seconds duration per muscle group.
Supplementation with calcium and magnesium will keep the bones and muscles healthy and prevent cramping and muscular soreness. It is essential to keep one’s body well hydrated by drinking water throughout and following a workout. The feeling of thirst or dryness in the mouth is a sign of dehydration. The run should be followed by another stretching routine including each of the major muscle groups of the lower extremity and back. To prevent injury for beginning runners, an ideal prescribed training program should ensure a low training load for the first three to six months of training to enable the body to adapt gradually to the added mechanical loading.
Repetitive and overuse stress and strain injuries are seen more among runners than many other athletes. The vertical impact of a runner’s body weight on their joints and ligaments is up to 5 times greater than walking or standing, while the shear forces are up to 50 times greater. With this increased force applied to the musculoskeletal system, it is imperative that both biomechanical and muscular balance be maintained in order to prevent injury. Additionally, one can appreciate the importance that a correct running shoe holds because without good support, ankle stability and cushioning runners with less than perfect structural and functional biomechanics will have recurring injuries and may soon lose interest in the sport.
Paying close attention to muscular and joint pain and soreness is a good way to prevent overloading the musculoskeletal system. A feeling of tenderness or discomfort, either when the Achilles tendon is pinched or when firm pressure is applied along the borders of the shin-bone or knee-cap, indicates trouble. Damaged tissues become tender to the touch well before pain is felt during or after running. If this is allowed to go unchecked, the result may be a debilitation injury.
Tenderness in any of these areas indicates among other things, that the training program is more challenging than the bones and tendons can tolerate. In addition, there is likely to be a biomechanical imbalance somewhere in the lower limb. This will be causing muscles to be pulling in directions that they are not generally designed to do and will therefore result in an injury to either the soft tissue (muscles, tendon, ligaments) or bone. Ideally this should be assessed and corrected by a professional in order to maintain a healthy pain-free running routine.
Whether it is off for fun or preparing for competition, these short steps will be a huge asset in a healthy training programme. I hope these tips help you increase your enjoyment of running. See you on the Waterfront!
Dr. Stephanie Lord is Chiropractor with a general practice and special interest in sports related conditions, located at Lord Chiropractic Clinic, 5 Rees St. (at Queen’s Quay W.).