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Running Doc: Staying Safe On The Trails

  • By Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM
  • Published Jan. 28, 2013
  • Updated Jan. 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM UTC
Trail running can be very enjoyable, but be sure to take precautions before and during your workout. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Keeping a few key points in mind will help make your off-road experience more enjoyable.

Running in the great outdoors can be an awesome adventure. However, trail running comes with a unique set of challenges and obstacles every runner should consider. Here are some tips for injury prevention and first aid.

— Watch where you are going — this advice seems simple enough, but it can be easy to forget that you’re not running on smooth paved roads. Beware of tree roots, rocks and other obstacles.

— Always tell someone when and where you’re going to run, and carry a cell phone.

— If you are prone to blisters, make sure your trail running shoes fit properly. A coat of Vaseline on your feet paired with synthetic non-cotton socks works well. If you do get a blister, keep your running shoes on until you can wash your foot and drain the blister. Be sure to leave the skin on and bandage it with antibiotic ointment.

RELATED: 12 Expert Trail Running Tips

— Ankle sprains can be serious business. If you can walk on a sprained ankle, move slowly. Sprains can be great pretenders, and many times an X-ray is necessary to rule out a fracture.

— A poison ivy encounter is good and bad news. Good news: You probably won’t feel it for most of your trail run. The bad news is you WILL feel the itchy red rash hours later. Although calamine lotion can help relieve the discomfort, a trip to your doctor for a shot of Celestone works wonders and decreases the course of a poison ivy reaction by days.

— Snake bites on the trails aren’t all that common but can happen. Snakes to watch out for include: rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouth water moccasins and coral snakes, but a bite from any snake warrants an immediate trip to the emergency room. Try to note what the snake looked like to tell the doctor. Apply a cool compress over the wound, immobilize the area and keep it positioned below your heart. If you have a bandage, wrap it approximately two to four inches above the bite (between the bite and your heart) to slow the venom moving through your system.

RELATED: 10 Essential Items For Trail Running

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About The Author:

Dr. Maharam is the medical director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. He also serves as chairman of the Board of Governors, International Marathon Medical Directors Association. Find him on Facebook at Running Doc.

FILED UNDER: Injury Prevention / Running Injuries / Trail Running TAGS: /

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